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The 4 W's of Evaluation

Why do we evaluate and what do we want to know? When do we do it, and who takes part?

 

Below is a brief introduction to evaluation in the context of youth work and the Youth in Action Programme.

Why?

The main focus of evaluation is to ascertain whether the overall outcomes or positive changes resulting from any given activity, programme or policy have been achieved.

This information can be important for a number of different reasons including measuring impact, justifying investment of resoruces, or developing and improving activities in the future.

This section gives you some information and guidence on what to consider when thinking about evaluation in international youth work.

 

What?

Different elements have an impact on the success of an activity / event; the atmosphere and dynamics in the group, the aims and objectives, the way the topic is addressed, the different methods that are introduced, the accommodation etc.

Below are some areas you may like to consider when planning your evaluation.

Aims and Objectives

Within SALTO, we define an ‘aim’ as a long-term goal or purpose (ie. the reason why we are delivering the activity / event) and an ‘objective’ as a measureable, observable behaviour (ie. what we need to do to reach our aim).

It can be beneficial for the evaluation process to set your aims and objectives from the outset, and use these as the basis for the outcomes that the activity is evaluated against.

Learning outcomes

To what extent did learning take place and what did the participants learn? How did it effect their work and what was implemented as a result of the activity? Which methods were productive and which were not so productive? What would you change in future courses?

These are all important to consider when thinking about evaluating learning outcomes, and these are also guided by your aims and objectives and the overall outcomes you expect to achieve.

Practicalities and resources

How did participants find the practical arrangements and logistics for the activity? Were there adequate resources and how were these utilised?

This information is an important addition to the outcome evaluation and can be used to determine whether the organisation of the activity, or its location etc. was successful and appropriate.

Teamwork and partnership

More for the organisers of activity, evaluation of this area allows you to assess what worked well amongst stakeholders / partners, what didn’t, and what each person / organisation was able to bring to the organisation and delivery of the activity.

 

Who?

Evaluation information can be used by a number of different people and organisations (stakeholders) involved in any given activity in a number of different ways.

For example,  in a Youth in Action activity, stakeholders could range from the European Commision, National Authorities and National Agencies, to trainers, participants and local communities.
Below are some examples on how the evaluation information is used:

•    To measure the impact and results of the event / activity
•    To help develop and improve quality in future events / activities
•    To justify the investment of resources into the course
•    To give participants an example of evaluation in action

Therefore, it is important that any evaluation tries to collect the data that is required by, credible and useful for each of the stakeholders involved in the activity.

 

When?

Evaluation is an ongoing process that should be incorporated into the whole life cycle of any given activity – planning, delivery and after the activity itself.

There are some specific points throughout the life cycle of an activity where it is important to consider evaluation.

Pre-activity evaluation – the planning stages of evaluation where aims and objectives are agreed and an evaluation plan developed.

Ongoing evaluation – this could be in the form of a mid-activity evaluation or reflection groups enabling adaption of the activity according to participants needs and progress against the aims and objectives.

End of activity evaluation – this can be used to measure the participants’ perceptions about the activity once it has finished – eg. learning outcomes, practicalities and logistics.

Follow-up evaluation – this takes place after an activity and can be used to measure longer-term impact and learning on a personal and professional level, and how this learning has been used.

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Mary Gooven, 12.04.16 13:17

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