A Conversation about Program Evaluation: Why, How and When? Uzo Anucha, MSW; PhD Associate Professor – School of Social Work Director – Applied Social Welfare Research and Evaluation Group York University
We acknowledge the influence of paradigms, politics, and values and are willing to deal with these by:
Getting ‘inside’ the project
Creating an environment where all stakeholders are encouraged to discus their values and philosophies
Challenging our assumptions
Asking stakeholders for their perspectives on particular issues
Remembering there may be multiple “right” answers
Maintain regular contact and provide feedback to stakeholders
Designing specific strategies to air differences and grievances.
Make the evaluation and its findings useful and accessible. Early feedback and a consultative relationship with stakeholders and project staff leads to a greater willingness by staff to disclose important and sensitive information
Sensitivity to the feelings and rights of individuals.
Create an atmosphere of openness to findings, with a commitment to considering change and a willingness to learn.
(W.K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook, 1998)
What is Not Program Evaluation? What is Program Evaluation?
Program evaluation means taking a systematic approach to asking and answering questions about a program.
Program evaluation is a collection of methods, skills and sensitivities necessary to determine whether a human service is needed and likely to be used , whether it is sufficiently intensive to meet the unmet needs identified, whether the service is offered as planned , and whether the human service actually does help people in need at reasonable cost without undesirable side effects (Posavac & Carey, 2003. p.2)
Outcomes are benefits or changes for individuals or populations during or after participating in program activities. Outcomes may relate to behavior, skills, knowledge, attitudes, values, condition, or other attributes.
They are what participants know, think, or can do; or how they behave; or what their condition is, that is different following the program.
Outcome evaluation helps us to demonstrate the nature of change that took place
A program to counsel families on financial management, outputs--what the service produces--include the number of financial planning sessions and the number of families seen. The desired outcomes--the changes sought in participants' behavior or status- -can include their developing and living within a budget, making monthly additions to a savings account, and having increased financial stability.