for example, does the program have the clarity of objectives or transparency in its methods required for evaluation? for example, in the evaluation of a program to increase access to healthy food choices in and near schools, stakeholders could include store merchants, school boards, zoning commissions, parents, and students. once stakeholders are identified, a strategy must be created to engage them in all stages of the evaluation.
a program’s outcome can be defined as “the state of the target population or the social conditions that a program is expected to have changed,” (rossi et al., 2004, p. 204). program evaluation also can determine the extent to which a change in an outcome can be attributed to the program. although the content and format of reporting may vary depending on the audience, the emphasis should be on full disclosure and a balanced assessment so that results can be used to strengthen the program.
hosting a department of applied research and evaluation at nichq, we are huge proponents of evaluation. evaluation is also essential to ensure that limited resources are utilized most efficiently for the greatest possible impact. here are five reasons why evaluation matters to your project and how to get it done. 1. you learn how to optimize for success and discover the story behind the results. at the close of a project, the evaluation assesses the extent to which project aims were met and identifies circumstances that led to high and low success levels. all of this together helps to tell the full project story. in a typical learning collaborative, teams collect data to monitor progress and test change, which is critical for improvement. in contrast, evaluation is research to inform decisions—an opportunity to push for adaptations and mid-course corrections that will maximize success.
each and every person’s perspective is essential and can be very telling for the project as a whole. participants’ feedback highlights areas of traction and areas that warrant further attention and specifics of what they need for the greatest success. also, the more people who respond to a survey, the more accurate the results will be. evaluation can take many shapes. evaluators sometimes ask for written reflections in the form of a narrative or conduct in-depth case studies with select teams. in addition, evaluations often include analysis of secondary data such as written teamwork, the progress of data submission, and the extent of online activity. although a full-blown evaluation may be complex, and external evaluators may not be in your budget, a project team can look for opportunities to weave evaluation into other activities. for example, consider adding a question or two to another survey you may be fielding for a different purpose.
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