“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make and end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” T.S. Eliot
We must start with the end in mind. There are three different types of program evaluation from which to choose: goal-based, process-based, and outcome-based. Your answers to the evaluation questions below will help to determine which evaluation method will best work for you and the specific end results you aim to accomplish.
- Whom is this program affecting?
- Whom do you want the program to benefit?
- Who are your program’s stakeholders?
- What results do you want this program to produce?
- What questions do you want answered?
The three types of evaluation and their characteristics are listed below. Review each to determine which type of evaluation will best serve your organization.
Goal-based evaluation is conducted to determine how well or to what extent a program is meeting its predetermined goals as established during program planning. It is beneficial when:
- entering a new phase of program planning
- providing periodic program progress reports
- determining the program’s current status in regard to meeting its goals
- analyzing if resources are allocated appropriately to ensure goals are met
Process-based evaluation determines how a program operates and achieves its results and is beneficial when:
- long-standing programs have experienced recent or ongoing change
- programs appear to contain major inefficiencies
- programs need to be illustrated to external audiences
- replicating a program
Outcome-based evaluation determines to what extent your program is delivering the outcomes it is designed to achieve and is beneficial for:
- justifying the existence of your program to external stakeholders
- tracking the performance of your program over time
Brainstorm five questions that the evaluation method you have chosen might answer for your organization. This will prepare you to identify the purpose of your evaluation.
What questions do you think you may want to answer? Which type of evaluation did you choose and why?