Evaluate to Increase Program Success

By Barry Sweeny, July 2010

There are a number of important best practices for using program evaluation to improve your mentoring program. However, to simplify things, these all really fall under THREE major categories:

  1. Use the best practice evaluation process steps  (get all the right pieces)
  2. Use best practices IN each step (make each piece work right)
  3. DESIGN and EVALUATE your program as a “Chain of Causes and Effects” (align your process and pieces with your goals)

This article is really a comprehensive set of guidelines as well as a set of links to aspects of program evaluation for which you may want greater details and assistance. The article has three major parts:

  1. A Best Practice Model for Program Evaluation
  2. Using Best Practices IN Each Step –Detailed Help for the Tougher Parts of Program Evaluation
  3. The Basic Strategies for Program Evaluation & Improvement

2. Using Best Practices IN Each Step

  • Develop parameters & standards for program evaluation
  • Define evaluation questions to be answered
  • Define audiences for evaluation data, conclusions & recommendations
  • Discuss & select measurable indicators to evaluate that link to program goals
    • Completion of planned program activities & extent of program implementation
    • Completion of planned participant activities
    • Attainment of program goals and objectives
    • Professional growth of participants & leaders (eg. changes on conceptual framework)
    • Extent to which identified needs are met
    • Extent of change in professional practices by participants and leaders
    • Changes in protégé learning, performance & productivity
  • Check alignment of evaluation indicators to program goals & objectives
  • Define data collection process
    • Identify target populations from which to collect data
    • Identify tools needed to collect data and need to validate tools
    • Define data collection,analysis, and reporting time line
    • Select person(s) responsible for implementation of plan
  • Develop targets for improvement for each indicator

I readily acknowledge that program evaluation is a complex, and sometimes confusing area. I know that because I do program evaluation often myself for other programs with whom I consult. That is why I make the following offer JUST for CURRENT IMA members:

  1. IF you have carefully read all of the web pages linked here, AND tried to follow this advice, and . . .
  2. You STILL have questions or problems,
  3. Just e-mail me with you questions and I WILL do my best to help you. THAT is what IMA is ALL about.  sweenyb@sbcglobal.net