One of the outcomes of learning about evaluation is informational literacy.

Think about it.  How does what is happening in the world affect your program?  Your outcomes?  Your goals?

When was the last time you applied that peripheral knowledge to what you are doing.  Informational literacy is being aware of what is happening in the world.  Knowing this information, even peripherally, adds to your evaluation capacity.

Now, this is not advocating that you need to read the NY Times daily (although I’m sure they would really like to increase their readership); rather it is advocating that you recognize that none of your programs (whether little p or big P) occur in isolation. What your participants know affects how the program is implemented.  What you know affects how the programs are planned.  That knowledge also affects the data collection, data analysis, and reporting.  This is especially true for programs developed and delivered in the community, as are Extension programs.

Let me give you a real life example.  I returned from Tucson, AZ and the capstone event for an evaluation capacity program I was leading.  The event was an outstanding success–not only did it identify what was learned and what needed to be learned, it also demonstrated the value of peer learning.  I was psyched.  I was energized.  I was in an automobile accident 24 hours after returning home.  (The car was totaled–I no longer have a car; my youngest daughter and I experienced no serious injuries.)  The accident was published in the local paper the following day.  Several people saw the announcement; those same several people expressed their concern; some of those several people asked how they could help.  Now this is a very small local event that had a serious effect on me and my work.   (If I hadn’t had last week’s post already written, I don’t know if I could have written it.)  Solving simple problems takes twice as long (at least).  This informational literacy influenced those around me.  Their knowing changed their behavior to me.  Think of what September 11, 2001 did to people’s behavior; think about what the Pope’s RESIGNATION is doing to people’s behavior.  Informational literacy.  It is all evaluative.  Think about it.


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