I took ECUR 809 during my first term of summer session courses in 2015 and was really only my second graduate studies course, since ETAD 802 took up two terms. ECUR 809 covered the evaluation of educational programs. As a classroom teacher at the time struggling with workload and burnout, I really had a tough time buying into the course and seeing how it could apply to my situation at the time. Despite this, I put my nose to the grindstone and eventually made it through.
Like many of the graduate courses I took, I was able to apply my learning and understanding directly a project of choosing. As an undergraduate student, I worked at a summer science camp through the U of R called EYES (Education Youth in Engineering and Science) and felt that it was a perfect candidate for a program evaluation. Having an intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of the program, I looked at the recruitment workshops and how effective they were at getting kids from their classrooms to registered in camp for the summer. I outlined a document review of already existing data, use of questionnaires for students and teachers, student focus groups, and random observations of classroom workshops. It became apparent really quickly that survey design would be critical and that many outside factors that may impact student enrollment would need to be considered.
The standards that we covered prove to be a good guide to approaching program evaluation. Ensuring evaluations have utility by serving a specific audience who can utilize the evaluation, feasibility by making a realistic plan that can be actualized, propriety by planning ethically and considering the wellbeing of all that may be impacted, and accuracy by utilizing techniques that produce accurate, useful, and meaningful information (Taylor-Powell, E. Jones, L. Henert, 2003). Following these will ensure quality, meaningful work is done through the process of a program evaluation.
Initially, I had no idea the timeline or budget costs that would be needed to be able to conduct a thorough program evaluation like I had planned. The process of going through a logic model was a very valuable experience and a tool that I will draw upon again in the future.
Although I struggled with a practicality of 809 at the time, the course turned out to be some of the most valuable learning that I employ and refer back to regularly in my new role working within my division’s Educational Technology team. With financial challenges facing Saskatchewan schools and school divisions, being able to properly evaluate and make decisions on educational programs is an extremely valuable skill set.
Taylor-Powell, E. Jones, L. Henert, E. (2003). Enhancing Program Performance with Logic Models, 1–216. Retrieved from http://www.uwex.edu/ces/lmcourse/