The US elections are over; the analysis is mostly done; the issues are still issues. Well come, the next four years. As Dickens said, It is the best of times; it is the worst of times. Which? you ask–it all depends and that is the evaluative question of the day.
So what do you need to know now? You need to help someone answer the question, Is it effective? OR (maybe) Did it make a difference?
The Canadian Evaluation Society, the Canadian counter part to the American Evaluation Association has put together a series (six so far) of pamphlets for new evaluators. This week, I’ve decided to go back to the beginning and promote evaluation as a profession.
Gene Shackman (no picture could be found) originally organized these brief pieces and is willing to share them. Gene is an applied sociologist and director of the Global Social Change Research Project. His first contribution was in December 2010; the most current, November 2012.
Hope these help.
Although this was the CES fourth post (in July, 2011), I believe it is something that evaluators and those who woke up and found out they were evaluators need before any of the other booklets. Even though there will probably be strange and unfamiliar words in the booklet, it provides a foundation. Every evaluator will know some of these words; some will be new; some will be context specific. Every evaluator needs to have a comprehensive glossary of terminology. The glossary was compiled originally by the International Development Evaluation Association. It is available for down load in English, French, and Arabic and is 65 pages.
CES is also posting a series (five as of this post) that Gene Shackman put together. The first booklet, posted by CES in December, 2010 is called “What is program evaluation?” and is a 17 page booklet introducing program evaluation. Shackman tells us that “this guide is available as a set of smaller pamphlets…” here.
In January, 2011, CES published the second of these booklets. Evaluation questions addresses the key questions about program evaluation and is three pages long.
CES posted the third booklet in April, 2011. It is called “What methods to use” and can be found here. Shackman discusses briefly the benefits and limitations of qualitative and quantitative methods, the two main categories of answering evaluation questions. A third approach that has gained credibility is mixed methods.
The next booklet, posted by CES in October 2012, is on surveys. It “…explains what they are, what they are usually used for, and what typical questions are asked… as well as the pros and cons of different sampling methods.
The most recent booklet just posted (November, 2012) is about qualitative methods such as focus groups and interviews.
One characteristic of these five booklets is the additional resources that Shackman lists for each of the topics. I have my favorites (and I’ve mentioned them from time to tine; those new to the field need to develop favorite sources.
What is important is that you embrace the options…this is only one way to look at evaluation.