Evaluation Tools and Techniques

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SECT ION 5: DEVE LOPI NG AN D IMPLE M E NT I NG AN EVALUAT ION PL AN

EVALUATION METHODS
Although indicators identify what you will look at to determine whether evaluation criteria are met, they do not specify how indicator data will be collected. You must still decide which evaluation method(s) to use. For example, if we are interested in knowing whether a community campaign was successful in influencing how community members view their relationship with the environment, we may select attitudes toward recycling as the indicator of change. But how can we measure attitudes toward the environment? Could we use a questionnaire? Might personal interviews be appropriate? What other methods could we use? Just as a carpenter has many tools in his toolbox, evaluators also must have numerous tools at their disposal. The carpenter may have a saw, hammer, chisel, square, and drill. An evaluator’s toolbox may contain questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, and observation. Evaluators select the method best suited for the job. Selecting the right method involves many factors. Some methods are better for gathering quantitative data, others for qualitative data. Some are better for particular audiences than others. Some methods gather richer, deeper data than others do. When designing evaluation tools and selecting evaluation methods, it is useful to consider the cultural contexts of the communities in which programs operate. Here are some guiding questions to consider to ensure that evaluation methods and tools are culturally appropriate: ✶ Are data collection methods relevant and culturally sensitive to the population being evaluated? ✶ Have you considered how different methods may or may not work in various cultures? Have you explored how different groups prefer to share information (e.g., orally, in writing, one-onone, in groups, through the arts)? ✶ Do the instruments consider potential language barriers that may inhibit some people from understanding the evaluation questions? ✶ Do the instruments consider the cultural context of the respondents? ✶ Are multiple methods being used, so that information can be analyzed in a variety of ways?

© 2005 Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development

Reflect and Improve Tool Kit

SECT ION 5: DEVE LOPI NG AN D IMPLE M E NT I NG AN EVALUAT ION PL AN

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Tips for Involving Youth as Partners
Young people may have a number of fresh ideas for gathering evaluation data. Be open to their ideas and suggestions. Their ideas frequently result in more user-friendly evaluation tools and methods and, thus, better data. Don’t be afraid to try new methods.

Questionnaires
Questionnaires are simple and effective tools for collecting information from a large number of people. Compared with other ways of collecting information, questionnaires are relatively inexpensive to administer. They can be used to gather information about the community-building process itself (process evaluation) or the results it produced (outcome evaluation). Utility of Questionnaires When using questionnaires to evaluate your community-building process, you typically ask questions about how the work of the team was accomplished. For example, you could ask participants in a community event to provide ideas for how the event could be improved in the future. An end-of-event questionnaire could be used to gather such information. Questionnaires can also be used to collect information about the outcomes of a communitybuilding effort. Questions would focus on how the community is different as a result of what was done. For example, a questionnaire might be used to find out whether community members have changed their opinions about a particular issue as a result of the team’s efforts. Questionnaires can also be used to find out what community members are doing differently as a result of the community-building efforts. Types of Questions Questionnaires can contain either forced-choice or open-ended...
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