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What is the UW-Extension curriculum in program development and evaluation?

This curriculum includes a series of professional development opportunities in evaluation (face-to-face training, distance learning, CD and web-based instruction, print and web materials) relevant to Extension programming contexts and responsive to the learning styles and needs of Extension employees. It includes offerings at both the competency and proficiency levels of learning. It is based on best practices in program development and established standards in evaluation (Program Evaluation Standards, 1994.)

  • Competency is defined as "a sufficient quantity of knowledge, skill and ability to accomplish a particular task or purpose" (UW-Extension Career Development Committee, 2001)
  • Proficiency refers to advanced skill, knowledge or experience that will help an individual carry out a task, position, job with greater ability.

Why offer a curriculum in program development and evaluation for Cooperative Extension faculty and staff?

Faculty and staff may come to Extension with limited knowledge, training or experience in program development and evaluation. Yet, every employee with programming responsibilities needs to be able to design, implement and evaluate educational programs. In order to do so effectively and efficiently, key competencies are required. UW-Extension takes the responsibility for helping its faculty and staff develop those competencies in order to be successful.

Who participates?

Offerings are open to Extension employees and community partners, however, priority will be given to Extension employees. Of Extension employees, priority is given to those in Cooperative Extension. The primary target group includes county agents and specialists in all program areas though paraprofessionals, administrators and other Extension employees may choose to participate.

What is the recommended schedule?

Individuals may follow the recommended sequence of courses or design their own professional development plan consistent with their needs and background. Learners who wish to pursue more in-depth or advanced courses should consider other PD&E non-core offerings and other evaluation training opportunities and resources. The sequenced evaluation courses build upon and reinforce each other to provide a comprehensive understanding to extension program evaluation practice.

Additional opportunities to build evaluation knowledge and skills are offered in cross-divisional workshops through the UW-Extension Program Impacts initiative. For listing see http://www.uwex.edu/impacts/

How is the curriculum delivered?

Teaching methods and delivery vary according to the course offering and learner needs and suggestions. All workshops include complete and comprehensive print materials to facilitate learning.

Face-to-face workshops are offered twice annually: once in Madison and once in Stevens Point or Wausau. Because single workshops rarely result in skill development that translates into proficient practice, additional consultation and recycling may be necessary for the expected proficiency development. Continued opportunities for learning and consultation are offered. The formal curriculum is supported and reinforced by one-on-one consultation, technical assistance and mentoring, both by the Program Development and Evaluation staff and program area liaisons and specialists. Employees are encouraged to form their own learning communities to continue their knowledge and skill development.

Who teaches the curriculum?

Cooperative Extension Program Development and Evaluation Specialists are the primary teaching faculty. They may partner with non-Extension experts to deliver particular offerings. Other Extension faculty and staff will co-develop and co-teach offerings as interest, time and resources permit.

Additional offerings, not part of the competency curriculum, may be identified and delivered by other evaluation practitioners from within Extension or from other organizations.

What is the cost?

There is no charge for registration, course materials, breaks and lunches (for all day training sessions) for UW-Extension faculty and staff. Costs are subsidized by the Program Development and Evaluation unit. Other attendees will be charged for meals, materials and other costs. Transportation, lodging and incidental meals are at the expense of the individual attendee. UW-Extension faculty and staff are encouraged to apply for Professional Development funds.

Funding and financial support from other sources is used to add to or extend offerings.

How will we evaluate this curriculum?

Program leaders and administrators as well as employees participating in this core curriculum will be interested to know whether it makes any difference - is it worth the resources being invested? The teaching faculty will need information to make necessary changes and improvements in content and delivery.

We will employ a variety of methods to assess process and outcomes including standard end-of-session questionnaires at each workshop, use of participant observers for selected workshops; on-line feedback forms; an annual participant survey; interviews with participant supervisors and review of organizational indicators. Program Leaders and Administrators will receive an annual report of findings.