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Introduction to...

Evaluation


definitions

Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products and organizations to improve their effectiveness.
(American Evaluation Association, 2002)

Evaluation is the process of obtaining and disseminating information of use in describing or understanding the particular program, or making judgements and decisions relating to past, existing or potential programs.
(Australasian Evaluation Society, 2002)

Effective evaluation is not an 'event' that occurs at the end of a project, but is an ongoing process which helps decision makers better understand the project; how it is impacting participants, partner agencies and the community; and how it is being influenced/impacted by both internal and external factors.
(W.K. Kellog Foundation Evaluation Handbook, 1998)

purposes of evaluation

1. Evaluation as an audit tool for accountability: measurement of results, appropriateness, efficiency.

2. Evaluation as a tool for development: program improvement, capacity building, network creation, social cohesion, and social capital.

3. Evaluation for knowledge creation: developing a better understanding in some area. Developing local knowledge that is needed for local development, and possible transfer of local knowledge.
Chelimsky E. (1997). Thoughts for a new evaluation society. Evaluation, 3(1), 97-109

guidelines for conducting evaluations

Program Evaluation Standards (developed by the American Evaluation Society):

Utility - The utility standards are intended to ensure that an evaluation will serve the information needs of intended users.

Feasibility - The feasibility standards are intended to ensure that an evaluation will be realistic, prudent, diplomatic, and frugal.

Propriety - The propriety standards are intended to ensure that an evaluation will be conducted legally, ethically, and with due regard for the welfare of those involved in the evaluation, as well as those affected by its results.

Accuracy - The accuracy standards are intended to ensure that an evaluation will reveal and convey technically adequate information about the features that determine worth or merit of the program being evaluated.

Guiding Principles for Evaluators
The Australasian Evaluation Society Ethics Committee has developed Guidelines for the Ethical Conduct of Evaluations. The Guidelines refer to three main stages of program evaluation: commissioning and preparing, conducting, and reporting. They can be downloaded in a PDF or Word format.

checklists, tools AND guides

Guidelines for the Ethical Conduct of Evaluations
Australian Evaluation Society: These guidelines are widely used by organisations as a training resource and to inform their evaluation policies. They are intended to promote the ethical practice of evaluation, stimulate discussion, and to help resolve ethical issues that arise in the course of an evaluation.

Resources for Methods in Evaluation and Social Research
This page lists free resources for program evaluation and social research methods.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Framework for Program Evaluation
This website provides a framework to inform public health program evaluation. It also provides access to a range of evaluation resources including an Introduction to Program Evaluation for Public Health Programs: A Self-Study Guide, on-line tutorials, tools, newsletters and handbooks.

Evaluation Support Services
A Web site created by the Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University which aims to increase the use and improve the quality of evaluations. It includes a project checklist, and a glossary of terms.

InnoNet.org Resource Center
This page of the Innovation Network website provides a wide variety of information and website links, from definitions to tools, all designed for both general inquiries and those seeking a more in-depth study.

Program Planning Evaluation Wizard
An Australian software tool designed to assist project officers working on primary health care and health promotion projects. It is a step-by-step guide on how to: develop a case for projects; develop project plans and evaluation plans and; write project reports.

Project Star: Toolkit - A User's Guide to Evaluation for National Service Program
A general reference and practical step-by-step guide to program evaluation.

Research Knowledge Base
Comprehensive web-based textbook that includes simple coverage of sampling, measurement, design, analysis, interviewing and survey research.

Resources for Methods in Evaluation and Social Research
A website that links to free on-line books, manuals, and articles on how to do evaluation and social research, including surveys, interviews, observations and more. The site also links to research about research methods, free software, and other sites on how to present data.

START do-it-yourself Evaluation Manual
A do-it-yourself guide to evaluating project work, in the fields of community services, welfare and youth work. It provides step-by-step strategies to assess how efficient, effective and appropriate your projects and services are, or are not. Available on-line from the Foundation for Young Australians website. (December 2000)

training & support

AREOL is "action research and evaluation on-line", a 14-week introductory course offered by email each semester as a public service by the graduate college of management at Southern Cross University

The PHCRED Program is an Australian Government initiative funding innovative and sustainable ways to increase research and evaluation capacity amongst primary health care provider groups and consumers.

RMIT University offers Short Courses and Single Courses to health professionals and practitioners, across seven faculties, with a number relevant to evaluation.

South Australian Community Health Research Unit (SACHRU) conducts training workshops for community health professionals. Previous workshops have included 'Introduction to Evaluation' and 'Qualitative Approaches in Evaluation'.

 

Glossary of terms

The Evaluation Center's Glossary of Evaluation Terms

BJA Evaluation Website Glossary

evaluation associations

Australasian Evaluation Society (AES)
This a professional organisation for people involved in evaluation. The AES has over 1 000 members involved in all aspects of evaluation and performance measurement. Members include evaluation practitioners, managers, teachers and students of evaluation, and other interested individuals.

International evaluation associations:

Useful Resources

Electronic Discussion Lists
The American Evaluation Association website lists a large number of links to Electronic Discussion Lists. These are topical, email-based discussion groups devoted to evaluation issues.

Building skills and knowledge in program evaluation
Presentation given by A/Prof Libby Kalucy

Practical Review and Evaluation - Valuing primary care
Presentation given by A/Prof Libby Kalucy

Divisions, evaluation and the new performance framework
Presentation given by A/Prof Libby Kalucy

Evaluation in primary health care
Presentation given by Anne Magarey

Evaluation Principles and Frameworks
This paper by the South Australian Council of Social Science (SACOSS) highlights that evaluations can contribute both to organisational transparency and also to the accountability to clients, stakeholders and funders. (October 2008)

What is evaluation?
A brief and simple fact sheet about evaluation compiled by the University of NSW (March 2002)

Advocacy Evaluation Update
The Center for Evaluation Innovation has edited this newsletter since 2009. This newsletter offers original articles and updates on advocacy evaluation theory, methods, and practice and is for people who are working to influence decision makers, and looking for a way to measure their success.

Transforming Evaluation
The Innovation Network quarterly eNewsletter included articles, reviews, and profiles all geared toward helping organisations to engage in meaningful evaluation. The Innovation Network stopped producing the newsletter in June 2007 but you can still access back issues from their website.

books

Evaluating Health Promotion Programs
Published by the Health Communication Unit at the Centre for Health Promotion, University of Toronto. The reference list alone is worth accessing: a long list of resources that address types of evaluation, qualitative and quantitative methods, data collection, questionnaire design, etc. (Version 3.6 August 2007)

Guidelines for Health Programme and Project Evaluation Planning (click on 'Guidelines for planning evaluations')
Available from the list of Tools on the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health website, these Guidelines are particularly useful to anyone commissioning an evaluation. The manual provides practical information on how evaluations are best planned, organised, commissioned, and used. It is not intended as a 'do it yourself' evaluation kit, but as a document that raises a range of questions and issues to consider when planning program evaluation. Updated February 2002

Sage Publications
Sage Publications have a number of book series relevant to evaluation, such as the Applied Social Research Methods series and a Program Evaluation Kit series (includes Evaluator's Handbook, How to Design a Program Evaluation, How to Assess program Implementation, How to Communicate Evaluation Findings).

journals

Evaluation Journal of Australasia
... the journal of the Australasian Evaluation Society (AES), published twice a year, to further the aims of the AES to improve the theory, practice and use of evaluation.

Evaluation Review
...provides a forum for researchers, planners and policymakers engaged in the development, implementation and utilization of evaluation studies. Reflects a wide range of methodological and conceptual approaches to evaluation and its many applications.

International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice
...publishes original evaluation research, both theoretical and empirical, as well as reviews of relevant literature and overviews of developments in evaluation policy and practice.

Quality and Safety in Health Care
... in order to address the issue of quality, this journal publishes articles relevant to the theories and practice of evaluation. It is an interdisciplinary journal published bi-monthly.

Original content by Belinda Lowcay, content updated by Rachel Katterl
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