“Cheshire Puss…Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

Let’s find out where we are going and identify the purpose of your evaluation.  To begin, reiterate your program’s need – why does the program exist? Identify your:

  • need statement/mission
  • outcomes
  • geographic market location
  • target population
  • baseline data to monitor change in population over time
  • justification (how do you know your program need is “real”?)

To help you answer the above questions, take some time to identify key program stakeholders, examine any program data currently available and contact state and local agencies (if appropriate).

The following are questions to be answered organized by the type of evaluation you have already chosen to conduct.  These questions will help to identify your purpose.

Goal based

  1. What are the characteristics, needs and priorities of the target population?
  2. What are the potential program barriers?
  3. What is the most important action to meet program goals?
  4. Create your own evaluation question.

Process based

  1. How is the program implemented?
  2. Are activities delivered as intended?
  3. Are participants being reached as intended?
  4. Create your own evaluation question.

Outcome based

  1. To what extent are desired changes occurring?
  2. Who is benefiting/not benefiting?
  3. What works/doesn’t work?
  4. Create your own evaluation question.

Upon answering these questions you should now, unlike Alice in Wonderland, have a very clear sense of direction and are ready to undertake your evaluation.  Our next blog will take us into data collection.

In our previous blog we came up with several questions you might answer for your program.  How did you do?  Did you consult any colleagues or form a focus group or team for this project?  We’d love to hear about your methods.  If you need any help forming effective teams take a look at our past team blogs or post a question in our comments.



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