My wishes to you:  Blessed Solstice.  Merry Christmas.  Happy Kwanzaa. and the Very Best Wishes for the New Year!

A short post today.

Ellen Taylor-Powell, my counterpart at University of Wisconsin Extension, has posted the following to the Extension Education Evaluation TIG list serve.  I think it is important enough to share here.

When you down load this PDF to save a copy, think of where your values come into the model; where others values can affect the program, and how you can modify the model to balance those values.

Ellen says:  “I just wanted to let everyone know that the online logic model course, “Enhancing Program Performance with Logic Models has been produced as a PDF in response to requests from folks without easy or affordable internet access or with different learning needs.  The PDF version (216 pages, 3.35MB) is available at:

Please note that no revisions or updates have been made to the original 2003 online course.

Happy Holidays!


A faculty member asked me how does one determine impact from qualitative data.  And in my mail box today was a publication from Sage Publishers inviting me to “explore these new and best selling qualitative methods titles from Sage.”

Many Extension professionals are leery of gathering data using qualitative methods.  “There is just too much data to make sense of it,” is one complaint I often hear.  Yes, one characteristic of qualitative data is the rich detail that usually results. (Of course is you are only asking closed ended questions resulting in Yes/No, the richness is missing.)  Other complaints include “What do I do with the data?” “How do I draw conclusions?”  “How do I report the findings?”  And as a result, many Extension professionals default to what is familiar–a survey.  Surveys, as we have discussed previously, are easy to code, easy to report (frequencies and percentages), and difficult to write well.

The Sage brochure provides resources to answer some of these questions.

Michael Patton’s 3rd edition of Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods “…contains hundreds of examples and stories illuminating all aspects of qualitative inquiry…it offers strategies for enhancing quality and credibility of qualitative findings…and providing detailed analytical guidelines.”  Michael is the keynote speaker for the Oregon Program Evaluator Network (OPEN) fall conference where he will be talking about his new book, Developmental Evaluation. If you are in Portland, I encourage you to attend.  (For more information, see:

Another reference I just purchased is Bernard and Ryan’ s volume, Analyzing Qualitative Data. This book is a systematic approach to making sense out of words. It, too, is available from Sage.

What does all this have to do with a analyzing a conversation?  A conversation is qualitative data.  It is made up of words.  Knowing what to do with those words will provide evaluation data that is powerful.  My director is forever saying the story is what legislators want to hear.  Stories are qualitative data.

One of the most common forms of conversation that Extension professionals use is focus groups.  It is a guided, structured, and focused conversation.  It can yield a wealth of information if the questions are well crafted, if those questions have been piloted tested, and the data are analyzed in a meaningful way.  There are numerous ways to analyze qualitative data (cultural domain analysis, KWIC analysis, discourse analysis, narrative analysis, grounded theory, content analysis, schema analysis, analytic induction and qualitative comparative analysis, and ethnographic decision models) all of which are discussed in the above mentioned reference.  Deciding which will best work with the gathered qualitative data is a decision only the principal investigator can make.  Comfort and experience will enter into that decision.  Keep in mind qualitative data can be reduced to numbers; numbers cannot be exploded to capture the words from which they came.

newyearresolution1 Ok–Christmas is over and now is the time to reflect on what needs to be different…self-deception, not with standing. I went looking for something salient to say today and found the following 10 reasons to NOT make new year’s resolutions posted on the Happy Lists (a blog about personal development and positive change for those who love lists found at

Do these make sense? Remember–you evaluate everyday.

1. They set you up to fail.

2. Everybody does it.

3. Losing weight should be a whole lifestyle change.

4. January is the wrong reason. T

5. Just make one.

6. There are better ways.

7. Bad economy.

8. No need for reminders.

9. You’re already stressed out enough.

10. They’re probably the same as last year.

I want to suggest one resolution that I’d like you to consider in 2010…one that will succeed…one that makes sense.

Learn one thing you didn’t know about evaluation.  Practice it.  If you need suggestions about the one thing, let me know (comment on the blog; email me if you want to remain anonymous on the blog; or call me–they all work.)

So if you’ve made some new year’s resolutions, throw them away. Make the changes in your life because you want to.

My wish for you is a wonderful 2010–make some part of your life better than 2009.