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  WSU Cooperative Extension  Life Skills Evaluation System - Measuring growth in life skills for youth and family programs  


  Why Evaluate?

WELCOME to the Life Skills Evaluation Web site. This Web site was developed to assist WSU Cooperative Extension Family Living and 4-H Youth Development faculty and staff to evaluate their programs that teach life skills. Partial funding of this project is provided by the Washington State Strengthening grant, "Partners in Promoting Strengths."

WHY PARTICIPATE IN THE LIFE SKILLS EVALUATION?"The Life Skills Evaluation Stystem has made it possible for us to document and show stakeholders the impact of our programs."

Evaluation data are needed at the local and state level to provide information to funders and decision-makers about the impacts our programs have on youth and adult participants. This process will allow for both local and statewide data to be aggregated and used in a variety of reports.


This evaluation system was created to measure growth in specific life skills as a result of individuals' participation in a program. The information gathered will tell you 1) if the program was effective in meeting its life skill objective and 2) provide concrete evidence to stakeholders concerning program effects.

This is not a subject-matter assessment tool. It is not designed to measure growth in content (i.e., knowledge of nutritional information or computer technology). However, a section on content can be added by the evaluator (select Learning To Use The System).


Program evaluation is the systematic collection of information to be used in assessing program components in order to make decisions about the program (Jacobs, 1988; Patton, 1997). There are two general types of evaluation:

 Process evaluations focus on how well a program is working by looking at the process of delivering a program, such as the setup of the program and the activities used to teach the content.  Outcome evaluations examine whether or not changes have occurred as a result of the program.

Results of program evaluations are used for one or more of the following purposes (Patton, 1997):

  • Gathering data for program improvement.
  • Determining the worthiness of a program (i.e., Did the participants gain knowledge or change behavior?).
  • Obtaining general knowledge about a program.

 Plans for the evaluation of a program should occur from the very start of a program, during the program planning stage (Jacobs, 1988). The evaluation then becomes integrated into the everyday activities of the program.

 The purpose of the evaluation should be tied to the developmental stage of the program. Jacobs (1988) developed the Five-Tiered Approach to Evaluation, suggesting that evaluation of new programs focus on the process of accountability and improvement while the evaluation of established programs move toward a level of assessing outcomes or impact.

According to the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation (1994), quality evaluations have four characteristics which need to be kept in mind when planning an evaluation. These characteristics are:

  1. Utility - An evaluation needs to be useful for those involved in the program.
  2. Propriety - Evaluation procedures need to be ethical toward participants and the least disruptive possible for the program.
  3. Accuracy - Data gathered for the evaluation needs to be accurate.
  4. Feasibility - The evaluation needs to be achievable with the resources available, especially time and money.

Jacobs, F. H. (1988). The five-tiered approach to evaluation: Context and implementation. In H. B. Weiss & F. H. Jacobs (Eds.), Evaluating Family Programs, New York: Aldine DeGruyter.

Patton, M. Q. (1997). Utilization-focused evaluation. (3rd Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation (1994). The program evaluation standards: How to assess evaluations of educational programs. (2nd Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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WSU Learning Center
1300 5th St.
Wells Hall, Suite 1060
Wenatchee, WA 98801

Phone: 509.662.4730
Fax: 509.662.3368
Email: Life Skills Coordinator

Program Content Created By:
Mary Katherine Deen, Ext. Specialist
Sandra J. Bailey, Asst. Professor Louise Parker, Ext. Specialist

Computer Programing & Design:
Kathleen Duncan, Info. System Coord

Bobby Approved Web Site
WebDesign By: Leila Styer - CAHE
Graphics By: Miro Vejzovic - CAHE