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Promising Practices - May 2011 - Evaluation Article 1

Promising Practices - May 2011 - Evaluation Article 1

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Published by bygsky
Promising Practices in 4-H Science
Promising Practices in 4-H Science

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Published by: bygsky on May 11, 2011
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Promising PracticesIn 4-H Science
Katherine E. Heck & Martin H. SmithUniversity o Caliornia, Division o Agriculture and Natural Resources4-H Youth Development Program
Why evaluate?
4-H Science programs provide opportunities or young people to learn science content, improve their scienceprocess skills, and develop positive attitudes toward science. Tis is accomplished within a positive youth devel-opment program structure that allows youth to orm positive relationships and to grow as individuals. Evalua-tions can provide important inormation about 4-H Scienceprogramming, including whether or not, or to what degreeoutcomes have been achieved; areas necessary or programimprovement; and to demonstrate to unders the value o aparticular program.Evaluations may include ormative or summative elements,or both. Formative evaluations are primarily concerned withprocess and how well a program worked, and the inormationgained is typically used to eed back into program improve-ments. Summative evaluations ocus on the outcomes o theprogram; or example, they might attempt to determine whatskills the young people learned.
Evaluation of 4-H Science Programming 
May 2011
4-H science education programs help increase youth scientifcliteracy in nonormal educational settings to improve attitudes,content knowledge, and science process skills.
© 2011 National 4-H Council
Te 4-H name and emblem are protected under 18 USC 707.
 
Formative evaluations: Evaluation of process
Many evaluations o out-o-school time programming have been published. Research has demonstrated thatormative evaluations can improve the quality o programming (Brown & Kiernan, 2001). Oen conducted inthe early stages o program implementation, ormative evaluations typically use observational data, surveys, and/or interviews to determine whether the program is being implemented in accordance with its stated goals, andwhether it adheres to a positive youth development ramework. Participant satisaction is one element com-monly addressed. Formative evaluations could identiy challenges that may help the program to improve. Suchchallenges might involve structural issues (such as problems with attendance), sta development needs, issues o collaboration or other concerns (Scott-Little, Hamann, & Jurs, 2002). Additionally, ormative evaluation may beused in 4-H Science programs to see how closely they adhere to the recommended 4-H Science checklist, whichstates that programs should use inquiry strategies and an experiential learning approach, and should be deliveredby trained and caring adults who include youth as partners.
Summative evaluations: Evaluation of outcomes
A summative evaluation seeks to determine whether, or to whatdegree, youth who participate in a particular program achieve tar-geted outcomes. Summative evaluations are typically conducted onestablished programs, rather than in the frst ew months o programimplementation. Tey seek to identiy the impacts programs have ontheir participants.Te 4-H Science Initiative promotes the acquisition o a specifc set o science process skills within a ramework o positive youth develop-ment and based on the National Science Education Standards. Youthwho participate in 4-H Science programming are expected to improvetheir “Science Abilities,” a group o science process skills. Tese 30abilities, which include skills such as hypothesizing, researching aproblem, collecting data, interpreting inormation, and developingsolutions, are delineated on the 4-H Science Checklist, available athttps://sites.google.com/site/4hsetonline/liaison-documents/4-HSE-Checklist2009.pd . Youth in a 4-H Science-Ready program are alsoexpected to have the opportunity to develop mastery and indepen-dence, to be able to contribute and eel generosity, and to eel a senseo belonging within the group. Te acquisition o science content, thedevelopment o science process skills, and youth development out-comes are all possibilities or summative evaluation.
4-H science education programs help increase youth scientifcliteracy in nonormal educational settings to improve attitudes,content knowledge, and science process skills.
 
Evaluation methods
Evaluation o science programs can take a variety o orms, such as observation o the program, surveys o participants, interviews with program sta or volunteers, or ocus groups with participants. Each method has ad- vantages and disadvantages, and selection o the appropriate method will depend on the goals o the evaluation.An initial interview with the program director is important in determining the goals o the program, whichis the frst step in identiying the most appropriate methods or evaluation. I the program has a logic model,or can develop one, that can help clariy the goals and outcomes to be evaluated. Te evaluation plan needs tobe specifc and appropriate to the program that is being evaluated.Individual interviews or ocus group interviews with sta, volunteers, or participants may provide insightsinto process issues that could be useul in ormative or summative evaluations.Observation o a program can provide useul inormationor a ormative evaluation in determining how well the pro-gram delivery is working. Observers need to be preparedin advance or what to look or and how to note or codethe interactions or other behaviors. One potential resourceor observational data collection ocusing on quality o programming is the Out-o-School ime (OS) EvaluationInstrument developed by Policy Studies Associates avail-able romhttp://www.policystudies.com/studies/?id=30.Surveys o program participants are one o the most com-mon methods or evaluation. Surveys, particularly thoseinvolving quantitative data, have the advantage o typically being quicker and simpler, and oen less costly, to com-plete than qualitative methods. raditional survey datacollection was done with paper and pencil surveys, but neworms that may be used include online surveys or groupsurveys done with computer assistance.Authentic assessment is another method o evaluation. Inauthentic assessment, learners are asked to demonstratetheir knowledge and skills through real-world tasks (Palm,2008). Authentic assessments can be utilized or ormativeor summative purposes and can be used independently or in conjunction with more traditional assessmentstrategies such as surveys, observations, or interviews. With respect to 4-H Science, authentic assessmentsstrategies such as learners’ responses to open-ended questions, written data presented in a science notebook,developing, conducting, and explaining the results o an experiment, or designing and building a modelbridge can be used to assess youths’ understanding o specifc science content and the development o Sci-ence Abilities. Te activities or results are then coded independently by the evaluators.
4-H science education programs help increase youth scientifcliteracy in nonormal educational settings to improve attitudes,content knowledge, and science process skills.

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