doi: 10.5191/jiaee.2021.28201

Evaluating Extension in Times of Crisis: Assessing Program Impact during COVID-19

Catherine E. Dobbins

University of Georgia

Kisha L. Faulk

Alexis Roberts

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension

Alexa J. Lamm

University of Georgia




Communicating the value of Extension programming to stakeholders remains a challenge for many Extension professionals. Program evaluation is a tool that can help communicate the value of Extension; however, many evaluation methods fail to articulate a story of aggregated impact. A public value instrument was recently developed to help communicate the impact of Extension. Communicating Extension’s impact has become more critical, yet more difficult, to do during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research note shares the results of a program evaluation using the Extension public value instrument to determine the impact of Georgia Cooperative Extension’s programs during the shelter-in-place orders due to COVID-19. Respondents (n = 572) indicated high levels of self-reported knowledge gain, wellness, intent to change behavior, and perceived economic value. The results demonstrated respondents’ overall satisfaction and valuation of Family and Consumer Sciences programs during COVID-19. The Extension public value instrument enabled evaluation data collection for Extension professionals to communicate the value of their program impact despite major disruptions to traditional program formats.

Keywords: evaluation; impact; crisis; COVID-19