Published On: Tue, Jan 26th, 2016

Programme evaluation

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FROM THE LIVE STAGE with Patrick-Jude Oteh

0803 700 0496, 0805 953 5215 (SMS only)

Evaluation is a field that applies systematic inquiry to help improve programs, products and personnel, as well as the human actions associated with them. It can also be referred to as an ongoing process of gathering information, reflecting upon the information gathered and then making decisions or taking action on them.

Evaluation is a core management function as this is a reflective or creative feedback process that can enhance and improve the quality of our work. There are three ranges of approaches in evaluation – internal i.e when you take a hard look at your organization trying to determine what works and what does not, collaborative/participatory i.e when you do this in a group or with a group of people and external third party i.e when you engage a third party to take a look at your organization and proffer solutions on the way forward.

There are different data collecting strategies and these range from counting things, surveys, interviews, focus groups and observations and these strategies can be organized through the following: descriptive quantitative(sums, percentages), visual displays (charts, tables, diagrams),quotations (typical, non-typical, critical), content coding (highlighting, pattern-coding, counting categories and the use of case studies.

The process of evaluation is necessary for us because it helps us to tell our story, it demonstrates program effectiveness, helps us to understand our programs and audiences better as well as informing our program decisions. A very good resource for working out our evaluation plans is the logic model which is a systematic and visual way to present and share our understanding of the relationships among the resources we have to operate our program, the activities we plan and the changes or results we hope to achieve. To see effectively how the logic model works please see :- W.K. Kellogg Foundation Logic Model Development Guide in http://www.ncleg.net/PED/Resources/documents/LogicModelGuide.pdf

It is very easy to make your own logic model – simply get a partner, tell your story to your partner and your partner will make a logic model for you and you discuss and refine the logic together. After you have done this you switch. The beauty of this is that you will be amazed at the story of your organization on a sheet of paper in front of you. The purpose and use of the evaluation plan is that it is a tool to systematically organize your collection and use of information. It aligns your evaluation questions and your program outcomes with data sources, data organization and use of findings.

A lot of us if we are engaged in doing an evaluation plan for our organization, will be forced to ask ‘what is the value of our work?’ And how many of us do know the value of our work? An evaluation will help to keep us focused as sometimes in the excitement of our craft we often lose track and move into other areas where our mission statement is either vague or does not address and before long we run into serious crisis both programmatic and institutional. A regular evaluation which is more like a medical check-up at the Doctor’s helps us to avoid this.

Perhaps at this point we need to ask – how do we currently evaluate our programs? What information do we collect? And what do we do with this information? All of this might sound difficult but if we realize that the theatre is now being run like a real business then we must realize that doing an evaluation is essential for our overall success. If we want to avoid the drudgery of doing this, we should give it out to a third party but we must have the guts of allowing the person to do the evaluation as honestly as possible as well as being able to look at the final results with a clean mind which will admit that what we are engaged in is for our own good. I am not saying you should engage a ‘consultant’ but if you have the resources why not?

A modern business of which the theatre is one should constantly and consistently be on its toes to avoid the ‘Enron’ situation but in this part of our world we take so many things for granted but my thinking is that those of us who have a long term vision for our organizations must constantly be on our toes and one of the surest ways of making this happen is to constantly evaluate our work. This also helps us to determine whether we are moving forward or backward.

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