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Six Steps of Program Evaluation

These six steps to program evaluation can help put your organization on the right track for continuous quality improvement.

Program planning and evaluation go together. These six steps can help put your organization on the right track for continuous quality improvement.

Public health workers conferStep 1: Define your stakeholders

Your stakeholders are supporters, implementers, recipients, and decision-makers related to your program. Getting them involved early on will help you get different perspectives on the program and establish common expectations. This helps to clarify goals and objectives of the program you’ll evaluate, so everyone understands its purpose.

Step 2: Describe the program

Taking the time to articulate what your program does and what you want to accomplish is essential to establishing your evaluation plan. Your descriptions should answer questions like: What is the goal of our program? Which activities will we pursue to reach our goal? How will we do it? What are our resources? How many people do we expect to serve?

Articulating the answers to those questions will not only help with accountability and quality improvement, but it will also help you promote the program to its beneficiaries.

Step 3: Focus the design of your evaluation

Evaluations can focus on process, means, resources, activities, and outputs. They can focus on outcomes or how well you achieved your goal. You may also choose to evaluate both process and outcomes.

As you begin formulating your evaluation, think about the specific purpose of the evaluation—what questions are you trying to answer? How will the information be used? What information-gathering methods are best suited for collecting what our organization needs to know?

Step 4: Gather evidence

Qualitative and quantitative data are the two main forms of data you may collect.

Qualitative data offers descriptive information that may capture experience, behavior, opinion, value, feeling, knowledge, sensory response, or observable phenomena. Three commonly used methods used for gathering qualitative evaluation data are: key informant interviews, focus groups, and participant observation.

Quantitative methods refer to information that may be measured by numbers or tallies. Methods for collecting quantitative data include counting systems, surveys, and questionnaires.

Step 5: Draw conclusions

This is the step where you answer the bottom-line question: Are we getting better, getting worse, or staying the same? Data comparisons show trends, gaps, strengths, weaknesses. You can compare evaluation data with targets set for the program, against standards established by your stakeholders or funders, or make comparisons with other programs.

Step 6: Present findings and ensure use

It is important that all the work you put into program evaluation gets used for quality improvement. When you present your findings and recommendations, it is important to know the values, beliefs, and perceptions of your group; build on the group’s background and build on common ground; and state the underlying purpose for your recommendations before you get to the details.