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Evaluation Reports

Introduction to Teagasc Programme Evaluation

Teagasc established a Programme Evaluation Unit in 2003 in response to recommendations made by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) in a report on Performance Measurement in Teagasc (1999). While no formal evaluation function existed prior 2003, Teagasc did undertake ad hoc reviews from its establishment in 1988. 

Today, the key role of the Evaluation Unit is to lead the development of an evaluation culture in Teagasc by preparing a cyclical plan for the evaluation of programmes, by undertaking and commissioning evaluation studies on the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability of the organisation’s programmes and operations and by helping build evaluation capability within the organisation. 

The Evaluation Unit has three key objectives:

  • Assess economic benefits and achievement of targets by undertaking high-quality, objective evaluation of the full range of services and functions provided by Teagasc to its customers, to establish the economic benefit of these services and functions.
  • Improve service delivery and design by assisting managers to identify and implement improvements in the design and delivery of the services they are responsible for.
  • Improve organisational governance by helping to bring about improved performance at all levels in the organisation in line with clear definitions of responsibility, authority and accountability.

Research and Knowledge Transfer Peer Reviews

Reports

Teagasc is committed to undertaking peer reviews of its Research and Knowledge Transfer programmes on an approximate five-year cycle; the purpose of each review is to:

  • Assess if an effective and balanced scientific programme is being delivered which fulfils the mission of the Programme and meets the needs of its stakeholders
  • Determine the quality, relevance and impact of the Knowledge Transfer Programme
  • Identify how the Research and Knowledge Transfer Programme could be improved to make best use of resources
  • Provide accountability for public funds expended.

The review examines both the management, research and knowledge transfer activities of the programme. The management assessment deals with strategy and organisation, while the programme assessment focuses on quality, relevance and impact, plus the programme’s sustainability, vitality and feasibility. The review is both retrospective and prospective, with an emphasis on the latter in the recommendations so as to bring about improvement in the future based, to some extent, on knowledge of the past.

The review is undertaken, under the auspices of the Teagasc Director, senior management and the Evaluation Unit, by a Peer Review Panel (PRP) of national and international experts drawn from outside the programme being reviewed. It is also conducted in accordance with a standard Protocol for the External Independent Peer Review of Teagasc Programmes. Specific terms of reference are prepared for each review. The management and staff of the programme prepare a programme description and self-assessment document in advance of a site visit by the PRP. At the conclusion of the site visit, the PRP produces a written report.  Programme management, in turn, prepares an action plan on foot of the report, and both are submitted for approval to Senior Management and the Teagasc Authority.

Reviews of Regional Advisory Programmes

Reports

In 2013, Teagasc commenced a programme of cyclical independent external reviews of its Regional Advisory Programmes with a view to:

  • Affirming good practice
  • Evaluating the:
    1. Quality of management and leadership in the Region
    2. Relevance and impact of services to the Region’s customers
    3. Productivity of staff in relation to key customer outputs
    4. Positioning of the Region for current and future service delivery challenges.

Reviews are retrospective and prospective, with an emphasis on the latter in the recommendations so as to bring about improvement in the future.

Reviews are undertaken, under the auspices of the Director of Knowledge Transfer and the Evaluation Unit, by a review panel comprising national and international experts and stakeholders from outside the chosen Region. 

The management and staff of the Region being reviewed prepare a self-assessment document in advance of a site visit by the review panel.  The panel members visit the Region and meet with staff representatives and stakeholders. They produce a verbal report at the end of the visit and, subsequently, a written report which is presented to the Director of Knowledge Transfer. The Regional Manager prepares an action plan on foot of the report, and the Director of Knowledge Transfer submits the panel report and action plan for approval by Senior Management and the Teagasc Authority.

Education Programme Reviews

Reports

In 2013, Teagasc commissioned the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills to develop an inspection model to evaluate the quality of the education and training provision in its four colleges and the three Private Agricultural Colleges.

A Whole-College Evaluation (WCE) asks key questions across three areas of enquiry, as follows, in order to evaluate the quality of education provision in a college:

  • Management and leadership
  • Teaching, training and learning
  • The college’s self-evaluation process and capacity for improvement.

A short pre-evaluation briefing is prepared by the reporting inspector for members of the evaluation team using data supplied by the college. This is followed by the in-college evaluation involving meetings and interviews with college management, a focus group of learners, and host farmers and benchmark farmers.

The reporting inspector assumes overall responsibility for the drafting of the WCE report, based on the main findings and recommendations agreed by the evaluation team. It outlines the quality of education provision in the college under each of the three headings described in the evaluation framework.

Other Reviews and Evaluations

The Evaluation Unit also undertakes or commissions ad hoc evaluations of other significant organisational activities, including Operations Directorate functions.