Tools & Methods of Program Evaluation

Program Evaluation September 21, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Methods include the collection of qualitative data (such as interviews and narrative stories) or quantitative data such as numeric survey ratings. Sometimes program evaluations will include both types of data collection. A common evaluation design for Extension programs involves the collection of pre- and post-data that can document level of change in knowledge, attitudes, skills, motivations, and behaviors. Another common technique includes collecting survey or narrative information (“success stories”) as a part of program follow-up, to find out if longer-term outcomes like behavior change were realized among participants. Survey tool construction or survey item adaptation from existing sources is often completed during the planning phase of program evaluation. A challenge in selecting tools and methods for program evaluation are various tradeoffs in decisions related to using pre-existing measurement tools or creating ones unique to a specific program. Other decisions about tools for program evaluation efforts include what types of software to use for data analysis and considering the use of online data collectors and mobile device survey designs.

Top Frequently Asked Questions for Tools & Methods

When should you use different forms of a survey or forms of questions within a single assessment?

What kind of statistical software do I need to analyze quantitative data?

When should I use interviews for evaluation?

What are common problems with survey questions?

Where can I find a questionnaire to evaluate an activity/program just like mine?

How many questions should be on a program evaluation survey?

When should you use different forms of survey questions?

How do I highlight positive aspects of my program?

How do I determine if there is a difference between two groups such as boys and girls?

What are basic principles to keep in mind when designing an evaluation survey instrument?

Is it OK to use a survey question with a five-part scale with children?

How can I collect information on how participants have used what they learned in their everyday life?

What is a formative evaluation?

What is outcome-based program evaluation?

When is it a good idea to use an online survey?

What do I need to include on a workshop evaluation form?

What type of demographic information should I collect?

What are some ways to conduct evaluation with limited-English language learners?

What are measurement issues to consider during program evaluation?

When should I use a “post then pre” evaluation design?

When should I use a standardized, validated instrument?

When should I use a pre/post evaluation design?

How do I evaluate the effectiveness of a monthly newsletter?

What is program assessment?  

What are considerations when developing focus group questions?  

What types of questions can be answered well through a survey?  

How can I design an evaluation for participants with low literacy abilities?  

What evaluation methods are best after the program is conducted?  

How can I evaluate one-time events such as educational exhibits at county fairs, health fairs, and community festivals?  

My post-test data is worse than the pre-test data, why?

How many people should I invite for a focus group for needs assessment?  

Can I use Excel to analyze my data or do I need more sophisticated statistical software?  

What makes a good evaluation question?  

What are traits of an effective focus group moderator?  

How do you conduct a focus group?  

What is a focus group?  

What can I do about a low response rate to my program evaluation survey?  

How do I determine when to use a sample in evaluation?  

What is a process evaluation?  

What evaluation methods are best to use while the program is conducted?  

What evaluation methods are best before the program is conducted?  

What are the types of evaluation?



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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.