- Author: Wendy Powers
It turns out there is far more to the UC Master Gardener Conference than talk about gardening! I was unable to attend as many talks as I had hoped but those I made were great – filled with timely information from UC ANR Advisors. Despite the outstanding venue, the talks were well attended, reflecting the strong commitment to continued education by the volunteers. Rachel Surls gave a nice overview of the Search for Excellence First Prize Grow LA Victory Garden Project, complete with evaluation data that demonstrated the personal benefits one achieves due to gardening. There was a nice awards ceremony complete with Silent Auction and a Marketplace. Apparently Master Gardeners are passionate about shopping, in addition to gardening. Considering I once managed to buy 2 pairs of shoes while attending the World Pork Expo, it should be no surprise I returned home with a few items from both the Marketplace and the Silent Auction (thanks Lauren for transporting my items that were not plane-suitable!).
The most coveted item at the Silent Auction was a beautiful redwood garden bench made by our own Jim Downer – and it was mine until the final minute of the auction! Alas, I drowned my sorrow by winning a few gift baskets well stocked with regional wines and then brought home a beautiful ceramic pumpkin made by Master Gardener Liz Burns of Monterey County. When I get to that county I will be sure to try to meet her. Overall, it seems that Master Gardeners are quite a talented bunch, especially those in Ventura County. Must be the salt air.
On the flight back from Long Beach I took a look at the Southwest magazine and had some of my earlier questions answered, right there in the message from the CEO. As I read through the magazine I came upon another article that gave me an ‘ah-hah' moment and the start of an idea. More on that later. I don't mean to keep us all in suspense but now I really must get that logic model done. The workshop to identify condition changes associated with the public value statements that were developed by the Statewide Program and Institute Directors and the Strategic Initiative Leaders is Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Thus my procrastinating is over.
I was a bit surprised to see that one of the promotion portfolios I reviewed for a faculty member seeking promotion from assistant to associate professor included a logic model for the candidate's research and Extension program. I wouldn't say it was the best logic model I have ever seen. However, this was the first time I have seen one in a promotion package. I can't help but think this demonstrates a movement in academia, or at least Extension, away from conducting activities as they present themselves to a more deliberate planning of work and efforts in order to achieve intended outcomes. What I found particularly astute, especially for an assistant professor, was that this candidate gave consideration to trends in funding and in societal and stakeholder needs and how those trends and needs might redirect the candidate's efforts in the future despite strong success up to the present. Despite the time it takes to review promotion documents for candidates outside of the UC system, there is great value in not only seeing what candidates across the U.S. are up to but in also seeing how portfolios are prepared – what's emphasized and how accomplishments are conveyed. I suspect that was my last review for this promotion year.
- Author: Wendy Powers
In preparation for the Aug 29-30 workshop with Program Team Leaders, SI Leaders, Statewide Program Directors and Institute Directors, I've been working on a couple of logic model examples that illustrate the progression from activities to public value statement. I've used my own past work as an example, because it's what I know best. Take a look at what I've put together:
In the process of this exercise, I've used a fillable logic model template that many of you may recognize; it's from Ellen Taylor-Powell (Emeritus, the University of Wisconsin) and one provided as an example by USDA-NIFA when they have offered grant programs that require submission of a logic model (integrated projects). The concept of a logic model makes perfect sense to me. But I struggle with 3 elements of it:
It seems backwards to me causing one to work from right to left. Logically, I would want to know what I wish to accomplish in my work (the ‘so what') and from there determine the path to get there, working from 30,000 ft down to ground level that represents the activities I undertake. After all, I don't use my GPS to tell me where I am; that's not useful when I already know I am lost. Rather, I use my GPS to guide me where I want to go and provide me an ETA. But first I need to know where I want to go.
Where does one put the metrics and indicators to be used to measure extent of change? It seems to me this is a critical part of the planning process if one is to be successful. I wrote them in the text associated with the condition change but there they seem buried a bit.
Do we actually measure Learning Change in our work? If we are using standardized tests in 3rd grade then perhaps we do have an indicator of knowledge. An certainly when we test someone (history exam, pesticide applicator's exam, etc.) we are measuring learning change that is the result of exposure to information over some period of time. But in my work, I really didn't measure learning. The exception would be to compare pass rates of manure applicators who took our training versus those who took the test without first taking the training. Otherwise, we spent considerable effort asking participants if they felt like they learned something as a result of their attendance. Self-reporting data just isn't a strong metric, in my opinion. Had you asked me if I felt like I learned a lot the first time I took calculus, I would have said ‘absolutely'. But the sad truth is my test scores did not reflect much knowledge in the subject. So I have opted to leave blank the learning change portion of my logic model example.
I still don't fully understand the portions of the logic model about Assumptions and External Factors. Sometimes one just has to sit through a learning exercise multiple times to get it. I eventually aced calculus, not because the instructor or content changed. I suspect attention and attendance had something to do with the improvement (external factors?)