North Dakota Prevention Tool Kit

Evaluation Methods

 

Observational Evaluation:

Observational techniques are methods by which an individual or individuals gather firsthand data on programs, processes, or behaviors being studied. By directly observing operations and activities, the evaluator and the evaluation team can develop a holistic perspective, i.e., an understanding of the context within which the project operates. Observational approaches also allow the evaluator and the team to learn about things the participants or staff/facilitators may be unaware of or that they are unwilling or unable to discuss in an interview or focus group.

Observations can be useful during a process evaluation or needs assessment. For example observations can be useful in determining whether or not the project is being delivered and operated as planned. In the hypothetical project, observations could be used to describe how learning sessions operate, examining the extent to which participants understand the concepts, ask the right questions, and are engaged in appropriate interactions. Such observations could also provide valuable insights into the teaching styles of the presenters and how they are covering the material.

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Environmental Scan:

One kind of observational approach is environmental scanning. The purpose of this environmental scan is to assess how public images portray attitudes about sexual violence and/or partner relationships in your community. Thus the people who do the scan will look for a) media and other images that portray positive relationships between intimate partners and/or opposition to sexual violence and b) negative images of relationships between partners or sexual violence. Steps in Environmental Scanning:

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Secondary Data Analysis:

Secondary data is data that is collected about a particular audience without having direct contact with that audience. These often come from administrative sources like the U.S. Census or from published (or unpublished) studies. Secondary data can often provide insight about emerging trends or issues in a particular community.

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Document Review:

Another kind of secondary data are program or historical documents. Documents review analysis techniques used for qualitative or word-based data and includes an analysis of material generated by a program such as rules, policies, regulations, mission statements, program reports, applications, meeting minutes and records on services and participants.

These documents are a useful source of information on program activities and processes, and can generate ideas for questions that can be pursued through observations and interviews. In addition, program documents can provide valuable information that may not be accessible by other means.

Documents are a part of a program’s history and can include plans that have not been realized in actual program’s performance.

Focus Groups: Focus groups are a way to gather the opinions/ideas from a small, targeted group of residents. The intention of focus groups is perhaps more to build a synergy of thoughts and ideas than it is to make projections about the community or program.

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Steps in Conducting Focus Groups:

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Community Surveys and Questionnaires:

Community surveys help one to gather info about local attitudes regarding precisely defined issues, problems or opportunities. Surveys are usually multiple choice while questionnaires are open-ended. Pre- and Post-tests are a form of survey for the community of participants in your group.

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Steps in Conducting a Survey

Survey Monkey is an easy-to-use tool for the creation of online surveys. Its primary strength is its intuitive web interface, which makes it easy for even nontechnical folks to create surveys and export collected data.

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Interviews:

An interview is a conversation with a purpose, designed to help you gather information about people’s assumptions/perceptions of activities in your community. They are useful when looking for in-depth information on a particular topic.

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Steps in Conducting Interviews

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Public Issues Forum:

Community forums are public meetings that allow residents to express their concerns about community issues, problems, and needs.

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Steps in Hosting a Public Issues Forum

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