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Thorough evaluation assists you in looking beyond participant satisfaction to learn something about their changes in attitudes, knowledge, or behavior after the field day program. It helps you identify ways to improve your program during planning stages.Well-designed evaluations can help organizers hone the theme and design of their events. Presenters can use evaluation to improve and understand the impact of their lessons. They can help teachers measure knowledge gained and retained by students from field days. Evaluation information is critical for reporting successes to funders and decision-makers.
Evaluating field days can happen in many ways. It may be through a written survey, observation and interviews with participants, talking to parents or teachers, examining event photos, etc. Regardless of method, evaluations should be planned to measure success in meeting all critical objectives of planning and delivery of field days. It should include two basic forms of evaluation – formative evaluation that identifies ways to improve the program, and summative evaluation that measures the program impact. Thorough evaluation, including multiple forms and methods, provides you with the essential keys for unlocking the full potential of your field day program.
A week after her field day, Regina, an organizer, heaved a sigh of relief. She said, “The field day is finally over and you can sit back and breathe again! Time to start planning for next year’s event, right? And this year I have a good idea of what worked and what needs to be fixed.” Having held nearly the same event for ten years, Regina and colleagues wanted to measure their impact. They collaborated with consultants to evaluate their field day participants, teachers, presenters, and members of the communities served by the event. “After ten years, you would think we are doing everything perfectly. But we got some surprises. Even though we’ve been around a long time, almost no one in the community knew we existed. Teachers are interested in more hands-on water activities. And the presenters want to know more about students who will be participating.” Among other things, the organizers plan to launch a public awareness campaign for next year’s event and consider a water theme. “We have some real direction for improvements next year. Good evaluation information is critical.”
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