The question was raised recently: From whom am I not hearing?

Hearing from key stakeholders is important.  Having as many perspectives as possible, as time and money will allow, enhances the evaluation.

How often do you only target the recipients of the program in your evaluation, needs assessment, or focus groups?

If only voices heard in planning the evaluation are the program team, what information will you miss? What valuable information is not being communicated?

I was the evaluator on a recovery program for cocaine abusing moms and their children.  The PI was a true academic and had all sorts of standardized measures to use to determine that the program was successful.  The PI had not thought to ask individuals like the recipients of the program what they thought.  When we brought members of the program’s target audience to the table and asked them, after explaining the proposed program, “How will you know that the program has been worked; has been successful?”, their answers did not include the standardized measures proposed by the PI. The evaluation was revised to include their comments and suggestions. Fortunately, this happened early in the planning stages, before the implementation and we were able to capture important information.

Ask yourself, “How can I seek those voices that will capture the key perspectives of this evaluation?” Then figure out a way to include those stakeholders in the evaluation planning. Participatory-evaluation at its best.

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