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TheĀ NCCLĀ Blog

It's Time to Evaluate

May 07, 2024

Planning for Parish Catechesis in 2024-2025
Part One

As the 2023-24 program year comes to a close, your thoughts (but maybe not your energy just yet) turn toward planning for the 2024-25 program year. The Planning for Catechesis three-part series will guide you in evaluating the current year, exploring how to think systemically about planning for the new year, and ideas for enhancing and expanding catechesis with families and all ages in your parish. Let’s begin with learning from an evaluation of your parish’s catechetical ministry this year.

Now is a good time to reflect and evaluate while everyone’s experience is still fresh. This is the time to capture your personal learning and engage all those participating in faith formation in sharing their stories and experiences. This article presents three types of evaluation: Personal, Team, and Participant. There is a downloadable file with a variety of evaluation tools that you can customize for your purposes. The “Evaluation Tools” file can be downloaded along with a PDF of this article at: https://www.ncclcatholic.org/leaders.  

 

Personal Evaluation

The first type of reflection and evaluation is personal. Take some personal time to process your experience of the past year. Select questions from the list below that can help you name your experience and identify your learning. You may want to start a journal to record your reflections.  

How would you describe your own personal experiences of catechetical ministry this year?

  1. What are the areas of catechetical ministry that are working well? What are the areas that need attention?
  2. What strengths are you relying on?
  3. What are your disappointments? What are your concerns?
  4. What is wanting to emerge in your life and ministry that you may only have a slight glimpse of right now?
  5. What is one thing you would love to change in catechetical ministry in the coming year?
  6. What would you like to begin doing in the new program year? What is one thing you want to stop doing in the coming year?
  7. How can you care for yourself as a minister in the coming year?

 

Leader Evaluation

The second type of reflection and evaluation is with your leadership team and catechists. You can send your team questions for preparation, meet in-person or conduct a Zoom meeting, guide the questions and discussion, record the results, and then review the results and prepare a report. If you use Zoom you can record the meeting (audio and video) and have Zoom transcribe the meeting for your report.

One way to evaluate the year with your team is to conduct a Four-Quadrant Evaluation. Invite your leaders to reflect on their experience of the past year. Here are four sample questions.

Quadrant 1. The upper left quadrant is for identifying what the participants (children, teens, adults, and/or families) found beneficial and what really engaged them.

Quadrant 2. The upper right is for identifying what the participants did not find helpful or enriching, and what did not engage them.

Quadrant 3. The bottom left is for ideas to build on the bright spots from the past year. What did the leaders find hopeful and promising for the future?

Quadrant 4. The bottom right is for what would you like to improve, begin, or give greater attention to as you plan for the coming year.

 

 

Participant Learning

Participant evaluation processes and tools can take many forms – from on-the-spot evaluations to more formal surveys, interviews, and focus groups. For example, a simple on-the-spot method is two questions given at the conclusion of a program or activity: “What benefited you?” and “What could we do to improve the experience.” At a gathered event people can receive a file card and write a response to each question on each side of the card. You can do this at the conclusion of every program or event.

Some of the more popular methods for conducting an evaluation include the following. Select the methods and tools that best address your needs and your context. Be sure to select methods that you think will get the best responses from people – in both numbers of responses and quality of responses.

Conducting interviews with selected participants (see suggestions in “Evaluation Tools”).

  1. Conducting focus groups of 8-10 participants (see suggestions in “Evaluation Tools”).
  2. Designing and disseminating a survey with structured-response evaluation questions and open-ended questions using Survey Monkey ( https://www.surveymonkey.com) or Google Forms (www.google.com/forms/about).
  3. Conducting a poll or survey on Facebook or conducting a chat on Facebook at a set time to solicit feedback.
  4. Inviting people to upload a photo or story to Facebook or Instagram describing the experience of participating in the program or describing what they learned.
  1. Inviting people to create a video describing their experience, using a couple of prepared questions, and then posting the videos to your church’s YouTube channel and/or uploading them to your church website.

The downloadable file, “Evaluation Tools,” has the following tools that you can adapt for your purposes (online at: https://www.ncclcatholic.org/leaders).

  1. Conducing an Interview
  2. Conducting a Focus Group
  3. Questionnaire for Program Evaluation
  4. Unfinished Sentences for Learning Evaluation
  5. Questionnaire for Participant Learning Evaluation
  6. Questions for Reflection and Application

 

Take the time now to learn from the experience of the past year before you begin planning for the new year.

Part 2 of this series will explore how to think systemically about planning for the new year; and Part 3 will present ideas for enhancing and expanding catechesis with families and all ages in your parish.

 

John Roberto
NCCL Executive Director
[email protected]

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