The purpose of evaluating a project is to discover whether your project objectives have been achieved. Another purpose is to assess and correct the process of conducting the project. Evaluating throughout the course of the project is referred to as formative evaluation. Evaluating at the conclusion of a project to measure effectiveness is referred to as summative evaluation. Both types of evaluation may call for the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. Funders want to know that the funds applied to a certain project have been well used and have achieved intended outcomes.
Evaluation techniques will vary since projects vary. The approach will be dictated by the measures of success you have outlined in your objectives. A starting place to plan an evaluation is to outline what questions need to be answered to demonstrate success. Next is a description of who, when, and how information will be collected. Many projects have a combination of staff serving as evaluator of certain aspects of a project and an outside evaluator (a non-staff person) performing certain types of data collection and analysis.
Some qualitative methods might include focus groups, questionnaires, surveys, or notes of instructors or observers. Quantitative methods are more formal and usually include statistical output. Some examples are the measures of scores on pre- and post-tests, analysis of records on program participants, or documentation of achievement of other milestones by program participants.
Start planning evaluation activities early in the process. Evaluation activities flow from the objectives identified for a project. Since the objectives are what you are trying to achieve, then the evaluation should be designed to measure your success at achieving these objectives.
Links for more information
Evaluation Handbook (available in the most popular downloads section)
Basic Guide to Program Evaluation
Evaluation Tips from FIPSE
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