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.
Guideline: Evaluation is a critical component throughout the life of a program or project. In planning the evaluation determining the questions to ask is an important step. As a program or project evolves through its life cycle, different questions might be asked at different life stages. Questions to address over the life of a program or project as suggested in the W. K. Kellogg Foundation's Evaluation Handbook include:
1. "What do you want your project to accomplish?
2. How will you know if you have accomplished your goals?
3. What activities will your project undertake to accomplish your goals?
4. What factors might help or hinder your ability to accomplish your goals?
5. What will you want to tell others who are interested in your project?"
Individual group members often have divergent viewpoints. Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats is a system fostering collaboration, increased productivity, creativity, and innovation. The concept enables participants in a discussion to move from the traditional argumentative approach to a collaborative process and fosters a more productive dialog. The document provides an overview of the tool and additional resources about it.
The National Science Foundation's User Friendly Handbook for Mixed Method Evaluations offers guidance on developing evaluation questions. This section includes five worksheets that take an evaluation team or evaluator through a process for developing questions. The worksheets are provided in PDF form for easy printing and reproduction.
The resource from EffectiveMeetings.com offers a list of nine practical tips that will help you have brainstorming sessions that generate results.
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.
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.