clear How Do You Evaluate Your Cross-Age Teaching Program?

Evaluating your project allows you to find out whether it has met its goals. Evaluation works, however, only if you decide up front what you want to evaluate and how you'll do so. The purpose of any evaluation is "to answer practical questions of decision-makers and program implementors who want to know whether to continue a program, extend it to other sites, modify it, or close it down."3 When evaluating your cross-age teaching program, you will want to show that it does one or all of the following:

bullet Meets the specific learning objectives included in teachers' lesson plans.
bullet Helps improve students' academic performance.
bullet Helps eliminate or reduce stereotypes or misconceptions about younger or older persons in the community that teachers or students may have held prior to the program.
bullet Conveys valuable information to students, whether about crime prevention, academic subjects, or special skills.
bullet Allows teachers and students to appreciate the skills, viewpoints, and experiences of many people in the community.

Look at the number of students reached, the number of sessions taught, and the number of youth actively involved as teachers. Examine whether your students learned the information you sought to convey. You can determine what they learned by testing them (even through questions asked in the group) or by having them demonstrate their knowledge through role-playing or by creating artwork.

Ask students for feedback on your teaching. This will help you to improve your techniques. Find out whether key points were adequately explained, whether questions were fully answered, how students felt about the way information was presented, and what could have been done better.

In evaluating your cross-age teaching program, also consider whether and how it meets the following more general crime prevention goals:

bullet Reduces crime or fear of crime.
bullet Educates and informs a target audience.
bullet Is cost effective.
bullet Has a lasting impact.
bullet Attracts support and resources.
bullet Makes people feel safer and more positive about being a member of your school or community.

Be sure to include an evaluation step in your overall plan. Ask yourself what you can do better to reach your goals, to involve more people in your project, and to spread your message to a wider audience. Then, make adjustments to your activities to strengthen your project.

Learning to evaluate the things you do is a skill you can apply to all aspects of your life. Good luck with your project and -- Enjoy teaching!

3 National Crime Prevention Council, What, me evaluate? Washington, DC: National Crime Prevention Council, 1986.

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Youth In Action Bulletin July 1999   black   Number 06