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A brief overview of the field of program evaluation

A brief overview of the field of program evaluation

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  • 1. WHAT ISPROGRAM EVALUATION? JENNIFER ANN MORROW, Ph.D. UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE
  • 2. Summary of Current Projects• Program Evaluation Projects – Project Weed & Seed – Project Fairchild Tropical Gardens• Student Development Projects – Project Social Networking – Project Writing• Teaching Research Methods/Statistics Projects – Project RLE
  • 3. Program Evaluation Philosophy• Utilization-focused evaluation (Patton, 1996) – Evaluations are situation specific• Comprehensive evaluation designs – Formative and summative evaluation – Qualitative and quantitative data• Useful and meaningful data – Simple versus sophisticated analyses• Faculty-student evaluation teams – Students as evaluation apprentices
  • 4. What is Program Evaluation?• “Program evaluation is the systematic collection of information about the activities, characteristics, and outcomes of programs for use by specific people to reduce uncertainties, improve effectiveness, and make decision with regard to what those programs are doing and affecting” (Patton, 1986).• “Evaluation research is the systematic application of social research procedures for assessing the conceptualization, design, implementation, and utility of social intervention program” (Rossi & Freeman, 1993).
  • 5. Types of Evaluation• Formative Evaluation: focuses on identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a program or intervention. – Comprised of implementation (process) and progress evaluation – Occurs during the entire life of the program/intervention – Is performed to monitor and improve the program/intervention• Summative Evaluation: focuses on determining the overall effectiveness or impact of a program or intervention. – Also called impact evaluation – Assesses if the project/intervention met its stated goals
  • 6. Preparing to Conduct an Evaluation• Identify the program and its stakeholders – Get a description of the program (i.e., curriculum) – Meet with all stakeholders (survey or interview them)• Become familiar with information needs – Who wants the evaluation? – What is the focus of the evaluation? What resources do I have available to me? – Why is an evaluation wanted? – When is the evaluation wanted?
  • 7. Program Provider/Staff Issues• Expectation of a “slam-bang effect”.• Fear that evaluation with inhibit creativity/innovation in regards to the program.• Fear that the program will be terminated.• Fear that information will be misused.• Fear that evaluation will drain resources.• Fear of losing control of the program.• Fear of the program staff that they are being monitored.
  • 8. What is Program Theory?• Program theory identifies key program elements and how they relate to each other.• Program theory helps us decide what data we should collect and how we should analyze it.• It is important to develop an evaluation plan that measures the extent and nature of each individual element.
  • 9. Inadequate Program Evaluation Models• Social Science Research Model: form two random groups, providing one with the service and using the other as a control group.• Black-Box Evaluation: an evaluation that only looks at the outputs and not the internal operations of the program.• Naturalistic Model: utilizing only qualitative methods to gather lots of data.
  • 10. Theory Driven Model• Theory-driven evaluations are more likely than methods-driven evaluations to discover program effects --- they identify and examine a larger set of potential program outcomes (Chen & Rossi, 1980).• Theory-driven evaluations are not limited to one method (i.e., quantitative or qualitative), one data source (i.e., program participants, artifacts, community indexes, program staff), or one type of analysis (i.e., descriptive statistics, correlational analyses, group difference statistics).• Theory-driven evaluations utilize mixed-methods and derive their data from multiple sources.
  • 11. Improvement-Focused Model• Program improvement is the focus.• Utilizing this type of model, evaluators can help program staff to discover discrepancies between program objectives and the needs of the target population, between program implementation and program plans, between expectations of the target population and the services actually delivered, or between outcomes achieved and outcomes projected (Posavac & Carey, 1997).
  • 12. Goals of an Evaluation• Implementation Goals – Equipment needs, staff hiring and training• Intermediate Goals – Program is delivered as planned• Outcome Goals – Is the program effective?
  • 13. Questions to ask in an Evaluation• (1) Does the program match the values of the stakeholders/needs of the people being served?• (2) Does the program as implemented fulfill the plans?• (3) Do the outcomes achieved match the goals?• (4) Is there support for program theory?• (5) Is the program accepted?• (6) Are the resources devoted to the program being expended appropriately?
  • 14. Creating an Evaluation Plan• Step 1: Creating a Logic Model• Step 2: Reviewing the Literature• Step 3: Determining the Methodology• Step 4: Present a Written Proposal
  • 15. Step 1: Creating a Logic Model• Review program descriptions – Is there a program theory? – Who do they serve? – What do they do?• Meet with stakeholders – Program personnel – Program sponsors – Clients of program – Other individuals/organizations impacted by the program
  • 16. Step 1: Creating a Logic Model• Logic models depict assumptions about the resources needed to support program activities and produce outputs, and the activities and outputs needed to realize the intended outcomes of a program (United Way of America, 1996; Wholey, 1994).• The assumptions depicted in the model are called program theory.
  • 17. Sample Logic Model Sample Logic Model INPUTS ACTIVITIES OUTPUTS OUTCOMESResources dedicated What the program The direct products Benefits for to or consumed by does with the inputs of program activities participants during the program to fulfill its mission and after program activities
  • 18. Step 2: Reviewing the Literature• Important things to consider: – In what ways is your program similar to other programs? – What research designs were utilized? – How were participants sampled? – Can previous measures be adopted? – What statistical analyses were performed? – What were their conclusions/interpretations?• Creating Hypotheses/Research Questions
  • 19. Step 3: Determining the Methodology• Sampling Method – Probability vs. Non-probability• Research Design – Experimental, Quasi-experimental, Non- experimental• Data Collection – Ethics, Implementation, Observations, Surveys, Existing Records, Interviews/Focus Groups• Statistical Analysis – Descriptive, Correlational, Group Differences
  • 20. Step 4: Present a Written Proposal• Describe the specific purpose of the evaluation – Specific goals, objectives and/or aims of the evaluation• Describe the evaluation design – Include theories/support for design – Methodology – participants, measures, procedure• Describe the evaluation questions – Hypotheses and proposed analyses• Present a detailed work plan and budget
  • 21. Ethics in Program Evaluation• Sometimes evaluators will have to deal with ethical dilemmas during the evaluation process• Some potential dilemmas – Programs that can’t be done well – Presenting all findings (negative and positive) – Proper ethical considerations (i.e., informed consent) – Maintaining confidentiality of clients – Competent data collectors• AEA ethical principles
  • 22. Data Collection: Implementation Checklists• Implementation checklists are used to ascertain if the program is being delivered as planned.• You should have questions after each program chapter/section that the program deliverer fills out.• This can then be used to create a new variable: Level of implementation (none, low, high).
  • 23. Data Collection: Observations• What should be observed? – Participants, Program staff• Utilize trained observers. – Your observers should be trained on how to observe staff and/or clients.• Use standardized behavioral checklists. – You should have a standard checklist that observers can use while observing.
  • 24. Data Collection: Surveys• To create or not to create? – Finding a valid/reliable instrument• What can surveys measure? – Facts and past behavioral experiences – Attitudes and preferences – Beliefs and predictions – Current/future behaviors• Types of questions – Closed versus Open-ended questions• How to administer?
  • 25. Data Collection: Existing Records• School records – GPA, absences, disciplinary problems• Health records – Relevant health information• National surveys – National and state indices (e.g., census data)
  • 26. Data Collection: Focus Groups/Interviews• Focus groups or individual interviews can be conducted with program staff and/or clients.• Can be used to obtain information on program effectiveness and satisfaction.• Can also show if client needs are not being met.
  • 27. Statistical Analysis: Quantitative• Descriptive Statistics – What are the characteristics of our clients? – What % attended our program?• Correlational Statistics – What variables are related to our outcomes? – How is implementation related to our outcomes?• Group Difference Statistics – Is our program group different from our comparison group? – Are there group differences on outcomes?
  • 28. Statistical Analysis: Qualitative• Transcribe interviews/focus groups/observations – Should be done verbatim in an organized fashion• Summarizing all open-ended questions – Summarize and keep a tally of how many participants give each response• Coding and analyzing all qualitative data – Utilize a theoretical framework for coding (e.g., Grounded Theory) – Use a qualitative software package to organize data (e.g., Nudist, NVivo)
  • 29. Writing the Evaluation Report• This should be as detailed as possible. It should include both the formative and summative evaluation findings as well as an action plan for improvement to the design/program.• Should be written in an easy to understand format (don’t be too technical). For more technical information you can create an appendix.• Include a lot of graphical displays of the data.
  • 30. Presenting the Results• You should present the results of the evaluation to all key stakeholders.• Professional presentation (PowerPoint, handouts).• Don’t just present findings (both positive and negative) but explain them.• Present an action plan for possible changes.
  • 31. Working as a Program Evaluator• Get more experience – Take classes • EP 533 (basic intro), EP 651/652 (Seminar), EP 670 (internship, can take up to 9hours), EP 693 (Independent Study) as well as many others • Evaluation Certificate (12hrs) – Workshops• Get Involved• Working as a Program Evaluator
  • 32. References• Chen, H.T., & Rossi, P.H. (1980). The multi-goal, theory-driven approach to evaluation: A model linking basic and applied social science. Social Forces, 59, 106-122.• Julian, D.A. (1997). The utilization of the logic model as a system level planning and evaluation device. Evaluation and Program Planning, 20, 251-257.• Patton, M.Q. (1986). Utilization-focused evaluation (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.• Posavac, E.J., & Carey, R.G. (2003). Program evaluation methods and case studies (6th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.• Rossi, P.H., & Freeman, H.E. (1993). Evaluation: A systematic approach (5th ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.• United Way of America. (1996). Measuring program outcomes: A practical approach (Item No. 0989). Author.
  • 33. Websites• Evaluators’ Institute – http://www.evaluatorsinstitute.com/• Guide to program evaluation – http://www.mapnp.org/library/evaluatn/fnl_eval.htm• Evaluating community programs – http://ctb.lsi.ukans.edu/tools/EN/part_1010.htm• Evaluation bibliography – http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/fipse/biblio.html• Higher Ed center evaluation resources – http://www.edc.org/hec/eval/links.html• The Evaluation Center – http://www.wmich.edu/evalctr/
  • 34. Websites• American Evaluation Association (AEA) – http://www.eval.org/• Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA) – http://www.bitbrothers.com/sea/• Using logic models – http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/WC041• Resources for evaluators – http://www.luc.edu/faculty/eposava/resource.htm• Various program evaluation publications (all pdf) – http://www.uwex.edu/ces/pdande/evaluation/evaldocs.html• Evaluation toolkit – Kellogg Foundation – http://www.wkkf.org/Programming/Overview.aspx?CID=281
  • 35. My Contact Information Jennifer Ann Morrow, Ph.D.Assistant Professor of Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling The University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN 37996 Email: jamorrow@utk.edu Office Phone: 865-974-6117