Community colleges have become highly desirable partners of 21 st century workforce development initiatives due to their ability to address skilled labor shortages. As flexible, teaching-centered institutions, community colleges are catalysts for workforce programs due to their ability to receive funding, develop relationships with business and industry, and connect workers to industry through the provision of non-credit educational services. Government initiatives and funding originating with the Obama administration have helped community colleges meet the growing demand for a skilled workforce to ease unemployment and spur economic growth.
The expansion of initiatives and workforce development programs puts a greater imperative on developing a standard for theory-based program evaluation by which to monitor program outcomes and provide feedback to collaborative WFD partners. The purpose of the study was to investigate and improve workforce program outcomes using appreciative inquiry action research to gain the perspectives of program partners at community colleges, industry and businesses, and federal program initiatives. Appreciative inquiry is used to learn what is working well, to envision processes that can be improved, and to create dialogue about changes that should be implemented. The findings indicated that WFD programs are generally perceived to be successful in meeting stakeholders’ goals, but that current evaluation methods are insufficient to provide timely or in-depth feedback necessary for recursive program planning. Full time WFD professionals average 13% of their time on outcome assessment, most of which involves students’ end of term self-reports or informal industry measures. Participants suggested six areas of improvement to current evaluation: evaluating on-the-job outcomes, including various people in evaluations, refining and developing evaluation tools, increasing knowledge of evaluation methods, obtaining data to inform program evaluation, and using best practices. The results were used to inform community colleges in their expanding role as WFD partners in designing strategies for future improvements.
|Advisor:||Fossey, William R., Olivier, Diane F.|
|School:||University of Louisiana at Lafayette|
|School Location:||United States -- Louisiana|
|Source:||DAI-A 79/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Appreciative inquiry, Outcomes, Program, Workforce development|
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