Program evaluation/Common practices in program evaluation

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Common practices in program evaluation

Richards, Neill and Butters (1997) surveyed 113 attendees at the 10th National Outdoor Education Conference in Australia about the nature of their outdoor education work and program evaluation practices.

More than half of the recipients reported working with programs which evaluated participants' and teachers' overall satisfaction with the program and satisfaction with operational aspects of the program (such as food, accommodation etc.) (see Table 1).

Table 1. Aspects of program evaluated during last 12 months (Richards et al., 1997).

Evaluation focus of programs engaged in this type of evaluation  % of programs engaged in this type of evaluation
Participants' overall satisfaction of the program 76
"Operational\" aspects of the program such as food, accommodation, etc. 61
Teacher/Client representative's satisfaction with the program 58
Skill of the instructor 37
Participants' attitudes towards others 36
Participants' attitudes towards the environment 30
Participants' attitudes towards the outdoors 12
Participants' attitudes towards school / workplace 12
Other evaluation focus 12
Participants' achievement in academic subjects 8
No evaluation of anything 3

The key sources of data were participants, instructors and accompanying teachers or client representatives (see Table 2).

Table 2. Evaluation sources for outdoor education programs (Richards et al., 1997)

Evaluation source  % of programs using this source
Program participants 90
Instructors 80
Accompanying teachers / client representatives 57
School / client administrators 34
Parents / carers of participants 28
Outdoor administrative staff 20
Independent researchers from a university or agency 8
Other 2

The main types of evaluation were group discussions with participants, written survey questions, observations of the program and individual discussions with participants (see Table 3).

Table 3. Type of program evaluation (Richards et al., 1997)

Evaluation type  % of programs using this type of evaluation
Group discussions with participants 81
Written survey questions 78
Observations of the program 77
Individual discussions with participants 62
Logs or journals 31
Videotape, film, or audio recording for evaluation purposes 6
Standardised tests 6
Self-designed tests 5
Other 5
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