Thumbnail guide to evaluation

This is just a little something I thought I would include here. I have been working on it for a client and thought it might be useful to others too. Nothing top secret, so completely fine to share.

Summary of key types of evaluation

Type Description Resources Formative Evaluation

This is a tool to establish the needs and baseline of the community before a project is designed and commenced. It can include:

  • A needs assessment

  • Community consultations about needs and priorities

  • Benchmarking research, e.g. surveys of the community about characteristics which the project will aim to change (e.g. wellbeing, social inclusion, arts access)

Mission Australia Youth Survey

ABS Community Profiles

The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale

Process Evaluation

This looks at how the project was implemented. It can include:

  • program fidelity – the extent to which the process was implemented as intended

  • feasibility – problems and solutions that were implemented along the way

  • reach, equity, intensity of involvement – the level of uptake and participation in the project

UNSW Centre for Social Impact guides

Impact Evaluation

This looks at the impact the project has had over the short, medium and long-term. In this approach, parties agree on a ‘theory of change’ – what they think will happen as a result of the program. Then they look at whether this occurred, and what unintended outcomes may have arisen. They look at impacts for each major stakeholder group e.g. participants, partners, community groups, donors, and the arts organisation. Some evaluators use a 'Program Logic' approach, or a ‘Most Significant Change’ approach, where they try to identify the key change resulting from the project for each stakeholder group.

Methods of measuring impacts will depend on access to participants and what can be feasibly and reliably measured. Methods regularly include a review of participation numbers and data, surveys, interviews, ethnographic observations and focus groups.

UNSW Centre for Social Impact guides