Title page for ETD etd-08232010-085351

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Baughman, Sarah
Author's Email Address baughman@vt.edu
URN etd-08232010-085351
Title Non-formal Educator Use of Evaluation Findings: Factors of Influence
Degree PhD
Department Agricultural and Extension Education
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Boyd, Heather H. Committee Chair
Creamer, Elizabeth G. Committee Member
Franz, Nancy K. Committee Member
Mancini, Jay A. Committee Member
  • stakeholder involvement
  • organizational involvement
  • evaluation characteristics
  • Cooperative Extension
  • evaluation use
Date of Defense 2010-08-09
Availability unrestricted
Increasing demands for accountability in educational programming have resulted in more frequent calls for program evaluation activity in educational organizations. Many organizations include conducting program evaluations as part of the job responsibilities of program staff. Cooperative Extension is a national system offering non-formal educational programs through land grant universities. Many Extension services require non-formal educational program evaluations be conducted by its locally-based educators.

Research on evaluation practice has focused primarily on the evaluation efforts of professional, external evaluators. The evaluation work of program staff that have many responsibilities including program evaluation has received little attention. This study examined how non-formal educators in Cooperative Extension use the results of their program evaluation efforts and what factors influence that use. A conceptual framework adapted from the evaluation use literature guides the examination of how evaluation characteristics, organizational characteristics and stakeholder involvement influence four types of evaluation use; instrumental use, conceptual use, persuasive use and process use. Factor analysis indicates ten types of evaluation use practiced by non-formal educators. Of the variables examined, stakeholder involvement is most influential followed by evaluation characteristics and organizational characteristics.

The research implications from the study include empirical confirmation of the framework developed by previous researchers as well as the need for further exploration of potentially influencing factors. Practical implications include delineating accountability and program improvement tasks within Extension in order to improve the results of both. There is some evidence that evaluation capacity building efforts may be increasing instrumental use by educators evaluating their own programs. Non-formal educational organizations are encouraged to involve stakeholders in all levels of evaluation work as one means to increase use of evaluation findings.

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