The Program Evaluation KnowledgeBase

Task 4: Select Evaluator

Guideline: Project size, evaluation purpose, and available resources impact whether internal staff members have the means to conduct the program evaluation or whether engaging an external evaluator is warranted. When selecting an evaluator give thought to the advantages/disadvantages of internal versus external evaluators. With an external evaluator it is important to know their experience as well as the cost of their services. Regardless of the path selected, the evaluator should be part of the evaluation team comprised of applicable internal staff members and stakeholders. Prior to proceeding with the evaluation the organization should determine which approach seems most suited for its needs and the resources.

Guiding Principles for Evaluators

Approved by the American Evaluation Association membership these principles guide the professional practice of evaluators, and inform evaluation clients and the general public about the principles they can expect to be upheld by professional evaluators.

Selecting and Managing an Evaluation Consultant or Team

This guideline authored by the International Development Research Centre provides ideas and suggestions for selecting and managing an evaluation consultant or evaluation team.

Hiring an Evaluator

This National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention Education Development Center brief summaries the issues associated with hiring an external evaluator.

When and How to Use External Evaluators

This report, produced by The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers and funded by the Casey Foundation's Funders Evaluation Initiative, is designed for program officers who may be asked to advise grantees about contracting an external evaluator.

Element 1: Plan the Evaluation

Purpose: Planning how to conduct a program evaluation is the essessential the first step. The preparatory thinking involves understanding the program being evaluated, organizing an evaluation team, and determining how to conduct the evaluation. Element 1 outlines the pre-planning tasks.

Activity 1: Understand Evaluation

Activity 2: Organize Evaluation Team

Activity 3: Establish Evaluation Focus

Element 2: Implement the Evaluation

Purpose: Conducting the evaluation involves designing data collection so the analysis and interpretation will answer the questions the evaluation sets out to resolve. When developing and implementing the evaluation design be flexible to collect and analyze data from many perspectives. The collected data should be attentive to the evaluation questions. Element 2 outlines the tasks associated with implementing the evaluation.

Activity 1: Data Collection

Activity 2: Understanding the Data

Activity 3: Report the Results

Element 3: Use the Results

Purpose: The evaluation's findings and recommendation have limited value unless they are shared with the stakeholders and utilized to improve the evaluated program. Using the results to improve the evaluated program and communicating with constituencies are activities that occur in parallel. Element 3 outlines the tasks associated with using the results.

Activity 1: Communicate with Constituencies

Activity 2: Use Results to Improve