Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) teamed up with Jobs for the Future (JFF) during the summer of 2022 to evaluate the Work-Based Learning Opportunity Grant, a statewide grant that increased the number of paid internships colleges were able to offer and increased pay for existing internships. During the presentation, THECB and JFF will provide context around work-based learning in Texas, an overview of the evaluation process and results, and key recommendations.
To increase the utility of the findings, the team involved grantees early on to gather feedback around the evaluation design and approach. Initial results were then presented to grantees during a data party. Results showed the importance of paid internships for students. For example, in the survey, 46% of students reported they would not have been able to participate in the internship if it were not paid. One student in the focus group elaborated, “I was able to make rent payments on time and have money for food in my pocket while getting experience for school…I don't think I would have accepted an unpaid internship.”
During the data analysis, grantees reviewed the data and were asked to assist in creating key recommendations using consensus-building activities. One key recommendation that emerged was around creating standard language for employers and students around internship expectations and requirements.
Because of the participatory evaluation process, recommendations are more tailored to grantee needs and are more likely to be implemented within the program. The team will present examples of how data can be used to improve programs, such as an internship toolkit for employers. From this presentation, the audience will learn how to implement participatory evaluation processes that help programs better serve students and employers.
Following this program, you will be able to:
- Develop a participatory evaluation process for their own program;
- Articulate new findings around paid internships and their importance to the student and employer experience; and
- Generate recommendations based on data that improve paid internships.