Evaluation is research on a project, program or activity to find out what happened – indicators and evidence of success. Evaluation is best when young people are part of the process. It should be used to help build an evidence base of ‘what works’, to improve the program and organisation and demonstrate outcomes to funders and the community.
There are generally two main approaches to evaluation – summative and formative.
Want to guess which approach is best when involving young people? Yes, it’s formative evaluation.
An evaluation can make use of a number of different research methods, including:
When you started planning your project or activity, you would have identified some aims and objectives to justify why things should happen. When starting your evaluation, it’s important to come back to these aims and objectives. An evaluation should make it clear whether or not these things were achieved, how this occurred – and if not, why not.
Remember, it will have been important to involve young people in setting these aims and objectives. Without knowing what young people wanted from the program how will you know if it was achieved? The things that young people themselves want from a program are also likely to be more meaningful indicators of success than the things someone else would like to see them achieve.
Try and keep evaluations fun and dynamic – no one enjoys dry and uninteresting evaluations!
Think creatively when designing the evaluation process. What other strategies could be used to answer the questions your evaluation is concerned with? Activities? Group discussion? How will your evaluation be engaging for young people with diverse skills and abilities?
Evaluations don’t just have to be done to young people. It’s best to actually involve them in the evaluation process, so they are gathering evidence by asking their friends and peers about their experiences.
Remember, this takes:
Outcomes are the changes and effects that have happened as a result of your project, program or activity. These can generally be…