Being the kind of programs and people we are, we assign great value to learning, and even more value to using that learning to improve things. That is what this page is all about – capturing learning so it will not be lost, and will be available to inform thinking, choices, and planning in the future. This critical last step in every process translates individual or small group learning into what we call that “program learning”.
During this whole process just completed, you probably have learned quite a bit. That’s the way it often is, especially the first time through anything. We end up thinking, “Well, the NEXT time, I’ll really know what I’m doing.” Right?
Right, so write. Write out what you have learned about:
- How to more efficiently and effectively do the process;
- Who else should be involved in the process:
- So they’ll learn something they need to know;
- So they’ll be more supportive;
- So they can contribute their perspective.
- How to lead the process better;
- How to make the process more feasible time-wise.
- What parts of the process need changing to be more effective;
- When to start the process. Now that you know how long it takes, when do you need to report on the results, then work backwards to see when it needs to start.
- What technology, software, supplies are needed for the process.
- What training would better prepare the evaluation team.
Some of these items may need to be built into your evaluation action plan. Some may just need to be given to the Program Director to decide on. Those answers and insights that need implementation may require a short-term task force to do so.
There is one final idea that often proves very valuable, especially after the first year a program gets started. We call it the “Program Changes Diary or Journal”. The idea is that someone or two persons be assigned keeping a journal of anything that happens in the program and even the organization (if it could effect the program) which may change the results that show up in program evaluation data. This suggest that even activities your program evaluation report has recommended should be recorded in the journal if they are implemented.
What is written in the journal can be very brief, but needs a brief description, date, reason for the change, nature of the change, and perhaps what might be effected by the change,
The value of the Program Changes Journal becomes evident the next year when the evaluation team is trying to understand WHY data have changed, as they look at new patterns and need to write an interpretation of what the pattern means. Even several years later, a different evaluation team could include new persons who were not there when factors that effected the data were enacted, removed, added, funding was cut, training was added, a new leader began, etc,