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Assessment and Feedback

Page history last edited by Kelly Behrend 12 years, 2 months ago

Bonner Program Operations

Assessment & Feedback

Overview | Rationale | Campus-Based Assessment Strategies & Tools | Sources | Resources



As a participating campus in the Bonner Scholars Program your program must develop an assessment and evaluation strategy for measuring progress towards meeting your program’s stated campus infrastructure, student development, and community partnership goals. The Foundation will require your school to report on specific activities in your program (see "Reporting Section" above and the "Reporting Checklist" in the attachments section).
Your assessment and feedback strategy should intentionally and systematically involve your primary stakeholders in the process, including site supervisors and relevant community members (including service recipients), campus staff, and faculty.
The Bonner Foundation, in conjunction with technical and training experts, will assist your program as you develop your assessment and feedback strategy.


The Bonner Foundation’s assessment model is based on the principle of self-determination, which we define as the ability to chart one’s own course in life. In our efforts, this translate into the collective ability to:
  • identify and express needs;
  • establish goals or expectations;
  • chart a plan to achieve them;
  • identify resources;
  • make rational choices from various alternative courses of action;
  • take appropriate steps to pursue objectives;
  • evaluate short and long term results, including the process itself; and,
  • take the necessary action to continue in the pursuit of these agreed upon goals.
There are a host of values that the Bonner Foundation maintains are intrinsic to these processes:
  • The most meaningful changes are those that occur in the people themselves and that reflect and increased capacity for initiating or carrying out change;
  • Change occurs best when greater emphasis is placed on the process for change and on the results for change;
  • The definition of human capacity is more concerned with self-sufficiency, self-determination, and empowerment than with changes that can be statistically measured; and,
  • Success is identified by the extent to which people (campus leaders, community members, participants) are able to identify their own problems and form consensus to propose appropriate solutions.
From these mores about our process emerge these realizations about service:
  • It is something ordinary people can do;
  • It is guided by six key terms: utilization, participatory, empowerment, systematic, intentional, and user friendly;
  • It should strive to show key issues, not prove previous assumptions;
  • Knowledge that transfers benefits from one situation to another can described in simple “lessons-learned” statements; and,
  • People (campus staff, community members, and students) have a stake in their own development.

Campus-Based Assessment Strategies & Tools

The Bonner Foundation has developed or adapted the following tools and strategies to help your program and its participants achieve a stronger program and become more accountable to your campus and community partners. We hope to develop or identify other tools that will assist you in understanding other dimensions of your program, especially community impact.
(a) Meeting Process
Though not the first strategy that comes to most people’s mind, meetings are an essential part of any program’s assessment and feedback process. The meeting process is imperative because it creates the energy and synergy that allows a project to move forward. This is where relationships develop and trust is built, critical features of your program’s culture that will ultimately allow the stakeholders to be supportive and critical, reflecting on the successes and challenges in reaching community and program member’s goals. This is the only way that improvement will occur. Well organized meeting processes offer your members the opportunity to take part in self assessments, receive feedback from others, and to offer feedback on the team's work as a whole. The following help to create effective meeting time:
  • Key members/stake holders should be present.
  • A high quality of preparation for the meeting should be expected (e.g., an agenda, good space).
  • Open discussion is imperative.
  • There should be a set schedule for process.
(b) Campus Inventory
This instrument was designed to profile a campus-based service program's infrastructure and to determine what important components exist or do not exist and how it compares with other campuses within or outside the Bonner Scholar Program network. The Bonner Foundation administers the campus inventory every two or three years. A copy of the questions from the last survey can be found on the Foundation’s web site (www.bonner.org).
(c) Student Evaluation of Program
An effective practice is to administer a Bonner Scholar evaluation of the program annually. The Student’s evaluation of the Bonner Scholars Program generally, and their service experience specifically, is part of a process that can help improve communication within the the program, and ensure shared responsibility in the program’s operations.
(d) Student Impact Surveys
For the last three years, the Bonner Foundation has worked with Jim and Cheryl Keen from Antioch College to measure the impact of the Bonner Scholars Program on students using the Student Impact Surveythat is administered by Bonner Directors to entering Freshman, Juniors in their first semester, graduating Seniors in the last semester, and beginning in Fall 2001 to Bonner Scholar Alumni. This longitudinal assessment project allows the campuses and the Bonner Foundation to examine the level of impact on those involved in the program before, during, and after the program began. Secondly, it allows us to make comparisons between program participants. Finally, when it is coupled with the other assesment instruments it allows us a more comprehensive picture of what we have or have not accomplished and help us understand why those outcomes have been achieved.
(e) Community Impact
Other than isolated efforts, the Bonner Scholar Program network — indeed, the campus community service field at large — has yet to put into place an adequate process for assessing the impact of our efforts in meeting community identified needs. However, several related efforts are underway on Bonner campuses in this area. First, most Bonner campuses have begun to recruit and support some of their faculty to incorporate community-based research components into academic courses. Through this process, faculty and student teams work collaboratively with local community groups to conduct research projects that address questions posed by the community groups themselves. Many of these research projects are focused on assessing community needs and assets, as well as program evaluations. Ideally, one goal of this collaborative process is the transfer of research skills to the community partners so that their capacity is increased.
Second, the Community Learning Agreement contains a section where every Bonner Scholar and Bonner Leader must state their (measurable) service objectives. Defining those service objectives will require the student to work with their site supervisors (which hopefully includes a student project coordinator) to determine (a) the goals of the service project, (b) the particular role the student will play in that project (as described initially in the Service Opportunity job description), and finally (c) the means and standard by which they will measure their progress towards meeting specific objectives. This expectation is by far the most challenging aspect of the comprehensive placement process, and one that we believe will take a number of years to refine and fully implement. The community-based research projects described above should become a major resource in this effort.


  • Hatten, Regina, et.al. "Action Research: Comparison with the Concepts of the ‘Reflective Practitioner’ and ‘Quality Assurance’". Action Research Electronic Reader, 1997.
  • Fetterman, David M., et.al.Empowerment Evaluation: Knowledge and Tools for Self-Assessment and Accountability. Sage Publications, 1996.
  • Fleenor, John W. & Prince, Jeffrey Michael.Using 360-Degree Feedback in Organizations: An Annotated Bibliography. Center for Creative Leadership, 1997.
  • Quinn-Patton, Michael.Utilization-Focused Evaluation, 3rd Edition. Sage Publications, 1996.

Resource Documents


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