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Results tagged “Pamela Larson Nippolt”

Why does everyone ask, "Are you satisfied?"

Pamela-Nippolt.jpgIf you are like me, you are often asked to rate your level of satisfaction with quality -- at the doctor's office, at restaurants, at the service station, while shopping online. This practice takes extra time and resources both on the part of the provider AND on the part of the participant.

So why do so many businesses and organizations want to know our opinions about their service, product or program?

The answer is deceptively simple. High satisfaction is a key sign that program participants will continue their participation in the program.

Citizen science, youth engagement and authentic inquiry

Pamela-Nippolt.jpgWhat are the best ways to engage youth and adults in authentic scientific inquiry? We are exploring this question with our Driven to Discover: Citizen Science project.

Public participation in science, known as citizen science, is when citizens collect and report data, using specified methods, to contribute to scientific research. In our Driven to Discover project, research teams made up of youth and adult citizen scientists are monitoring Monarch butterfy larvae, birds, and water quality, then conducting investigations.

This five-year project is now entering its fourth summer. Through it, we are designing a model and curriculum to prepare and support adults - content experts, youth leaders, parents. Their reasons for participation vary -- to volunteer, to extend their teaching, to deepen youth programs in nature settings, to learn through inquiry with youth.

Soft skills can be hard to measure

Pamela-Nippolt.jpgIf you, like me, evaluate and study youth programs, you should know about a new resource for measuring soft skills outcomes. Soft skills -- communication, relationships and collaboration, critical thinking and decision making, and initiative and self-direction -- can be hard to measure. Youth programs can help young people to acquire these skills, which are important for working and participating in civic life.

The Forum for Youth Investment has published a reviewed report of eight tools to do this. "From soft skills to hard data" reviews eight tools that are both practical and rigorous - offering something for evaluators and program practitioners alike.

Build your evaluation muscle to use it effectively in the program

Pamela-Nippolt.jpgJust when you thought that your youth program was doing well to DO evaluation at all, we evaluators want you to USE it, too! What does it take to make the report, and the entire evaluation process, an integral part of a youth organizations' everyday work?

I've learned that building capacity to use evaluation does not depend on having a lot of fancy bells and whistles. My experiences in the reporting stage of evaluation work with youth-serving organizations have taught me that successful use of evaluation has little to do with slick reports and branded slide presentations. It is more about the right people coming together to roll up their sleeves around the findings and lessons.

Who benefits from 4-H volunteering? You might be surprised

Pamela-Nippolt.jpgYou might think that the sole beneficiaries of youth program volunteering would be youth. But you would be mistaken -- the value extends to the community and to the volunteers themselves.

A recent study of 4-H volunteers in the North Central United States documents the types and levels of contributions made by volunteers that benefit youth, their communities, and the volunteers themselves.

More than half a million adults across the US give their time to the 4-H program and Extension.This is a lot of "people power". To put it in context, the YMCA and the American Red Cross -- two of the largest nonprofit organizations in the country -- are each supported by similar-sized corps of volunteers.

Great expectations are good predictors of science careers

Pamela-Nippolt.jpgWhen young people are asked, "What kind of work do you expect to be doing when you are 30 years old?", it turns out that their responses are quite accurate predictions of their college majors.

A 2006 study of young adolescents' career expectations, led by researchers at the University of Virginia, investigated whether 13-year-olds with an expectation for a science-related career obtained science degrees at higher rates than 13-year-olds without this expectation. They do - or at least they did - in a national sample of youth studied during the years 1988 through 2000, and published in 2006.

The study factored in differences in academic achievement, academic characteristics, and demographics, and followed young people living in the U.S. over time. Young people were asked to select one employment option from a list (only one!) and their career expectations were sorted into two groups -- science-related and non-science.

Valor Publico: Translating youth leadership from Mexico

Pamela-Nippolt.jpgOn a trip to Mexico a couple of weeks ago as a participant in National Extension Leadership Development, I had a chance to see a community health organization that is still going strong 20 years after being founded by a group of youth. As a youth development educator, I was struck by the power of youth when they are engaged as leaders in their community. As an program evaluator, I got to thinking about factors that play into sustaining a program and its overall value to the public over time.


Do outcome evaluations put young people down?

Pamela-Nippolt.jpgIn the winter issue of New Directions for Evaluation, Sarah Zeller-Berkman, director of the Beacons National Strategy Initiative, argues that youth development evaluations reinforce the "status quo" for young people in the United States. She suggests that Western society systematically excludes young people, and that the designs for outcome evaluations play a role in that exclusion. Evaluation studies are largely designed based on assumptions that youth are incomplete and "less than" adults. We do this, she contends, by focusing on individual youth outcomes and ignoring the differences that youth make when they engage with adults, in organizations, and in communities.

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