Spring 1988 // Volume 26 // Number 1 // Tools of the Trade // 1TOT1

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SNickers Retrospective


James S. Long
Extension Evaluation Specialist
Washington State University-Pullman

Steven C. Fransen
Extension Agronomist
Washington State University-Pullman

"SNickers Retrospective Workshop Evaluation." James S. Long and Steven C. Fransen. Pullman: Washington Cooperative Extension Service, 1986. Available at no charge from James Long, Room 323F Hulbert Hall, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-6230.

In Washington State, for an in-service education workshop, we recently developed and tested an evaluation instrument. It depended on the participants' retrospective self-assessment of progress toward each educational objective. This was the prototype for what we have come to call the "SNickers evaluation."

Here's how it worked:

  • In print, we repeated the educational objectives and provided an achievement scale for each objective.
  • Then, for each objective, we asked participants at the end of the workshop:

      To draw on each achievement scale -
      An S to show where they started at the beginning of the workshop, and
      An N to show where they are now.

      To write a workshop activity that helped them move from S to N.

      To list a learning activity that would help them move from N (if less than 100%) toward what, for them, would represent 100% achievement of that objective.

We discovered several things about the instrument:

  • It provided quantitative perceptual data about change in competence.
  • It identified activities that proved helpful in progressing toward each objective.
  • It generated plausible suggestions for additional, higher level training.

We trusted the "change data" because:

  • The average S-starting point-was higher than the change score (that made sense to us).
  • The distribution of S's reflected the varying backgrounds of the participants in the subject matter.
  • The range of N's paralleled the varying on-the-job assignments of the participants.
  • Responses to the "what helped?" question were accurate and specific to each objective.
  • Replies to the "what next?" question were also specific to each objective and, sequentially, would follow this training.
  • Participants' responses and observers' reports were similar.

This enabled us to conclude that the "SNickers evaluation"-a retrospective self-assessment of change in competence-provided trustworthy data, helped explain the training's success, and offered useful suggestions for planning future training.