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Learning from Our Experiences

Learning Objectives: Learn the importance of documentation and evaluation as a means for performance
improvement. It’s important to keep track of what we do and to learn from our experiences. Doing this can help us improve our program and its results.


Brainstorm ways to document and assess programs and activities. Topics for discussion include the following items:
• Documenting our activities and achievements – in words and pictures
Documentation will not only help your group in the evaluation process, but it will facilitate smoother relationship with the media and make your projects easily accessible to other groups.
• Measuring success – how will we know we’ve succeeded?
There are a number of ways to measure success, but your group will determine the most important measures of success. Check your project/program’s progress against these measures at designated intervals.


Brainstorm what you feel will be important measures of success.
• Getting feedback – evaluation tools and techniques


Ask participants how they’re feeling about your group’s project, or use a more
structured form of feedback gathering.

• Debriefing – learning in the moments after a major activity
Sometimes the best feedback is available immediately after a project has taken place. For workshops,
structure a short period of time at the end of your session to solicit feedback and allow participants to evaluate the session. For projects, try and schedule time for your group to meet immediately following the project for just 20 minutes or so. Discuss successes and challenges, lessons learned and any other feedback. Make sure there is a recorder for your group.
• Incorporating what we’ve learned into future efforts
Often times, challenges met are easily avoided in the future. Make sure that everyone in the group knows that successes and challenges are vital to the continued success of future projects. Consider a running “best practices” list for particular projects, workshops, or even demographic groups (i.e., When
working at the senior home, volunteerism is more visible in the morning hours).
• Sharing what we’ve learned with others in our group and beyond (tell FEMA, local media, other communities—
anyone who will listen!)
The importance of spreading the word can not be emphasized enough. If you’re proud of your group’s achievements, others will be intrigued. Utilize the methods outlined in Section 4 to attract media,

• Utilizing the Internet to spread the word.
The Internet has become a powerful information-sharing tool. Chances are that a member of your group has experience using the Internet either personally or for business. Solicit help in getting project and volunteer information online. If no member of your group is comfortable taking on this task, solicit help from a local web-development firm.
The link between evaluation and sustainability is well documented. Programs and projects that are consistently evaluated are more likely to satisfy engaged volunteers and more likely to effectively serve your community. As programs and projects change over time, consistent evaluation allows your group to refine processes and procedures. Well-evaluated programs are often the longest lasting and most successful.
It can also be valuable to ask participants to evaluate themselves or a particular project before and after the fact.

ASSESSMENT

Sourced from FEMA

 

 
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