Section A, Part 10
Evaluation—A Continuing Process
Evaluation is an important part of any planning process. Many people think of evaluation as simply pointing to the success or failure of a program. If conducted properly, an evaluation can do much more than answer “what happened?” Used as an ongoing process, evaluation can help determine the strengths and weaknesses of a program or group and focus attention on needed improvements. The progress of the group is measured by the changes and growth that have taken place in the actions, skills, and knowledge of members.
No organization or activity can operate effectively without conducting some type of evaluation. It is easy to get caught up in the activity and put off or give little attention to this phase of successful organization, but you need to constantly evaluate what you are doing and provide feedback to the organization and its members so that decisions can be made. Too often groups continue to do things the same way, assuming that they are effective.
Evaluation is a continuous process that occurs before, during, and after meetings and activities. It is particularly beneficial—and essential—at the beginning and end of an activity and at the beginning and end of a school year.
- To determine whether the objectives of the group have been reached
- To bring about improvements in projects and programs
- To redirect or emphasize the movement of the program
- To measure and record progress
- To encourage self-appraisal and improvement by looking for the good as well as the bad in a project
- To promote leadership growth with continual feedback of information to assist the leaders in making decisions
- To increase participation and improved public relations by seeking the opinions and support of students and faculty
- To serve as a record for subsequent groups and to give direction to planning for the next year
What Should be Evaluated?
- The organization as a whole should be evaluated in terms of attaining its stated goals and objectives.
- Individual activities should be evaluated continuously in terms of achievement of established goals.
- Each individual should evaluate him/herself in terms of his/her own performance.
- Meetings and procedures should be evaluated in terms of effectiveness and involvement.
- The group’s members should be evaluated in terms of responsibilities and effectiveness in carrying out their duties with the organization.
- The leaders of the group (including the adviser) should be evaluated in terms of their job descriptions and effectiveness.
Who Should Evaluate?
When planning an evaluation, it is best to involve people who know how to plan and conduct them. This is an excellent opportunity to work closely with teachers, counselors, or school administrators who have a wealth of knowledge about evaluations.
Since evaluation is a continuous process, be sure that you seek feedback from a wide audience that can be honest and objective. The same individuals or groups need not be involved in all areas of evaluation. You and your group must decide which people or groups can best provide the evaluation needed. Typically, the following groups or individuals would be useful for evaluations:
- Members of the organization
- School administrators
- Members of the student body
- Community members
- Advisers or sponsors
- School faculty members
- Leaders of the organization
Approaches to Evaluation
There are many ways of evaluating the success or failure of a program, activity, event, project, etc. The first question in any evaluation is, “What is the purpose of the evaluation?” The purpose dictates the type of evaluation.
- Ongoing Evaluation—If the evaluation’s purpose is to help change the program while it is developing, then you need to do an ongoing evaluation. This evaluation examines program implementation as it happens and seeks changes that will facilitate the implementation. For example, you might ask what people liked or disliked during the first unit of the conference so that the next session could be changed to meet your needs.
- Conclusion Evaluation—When the purpose is to examine the success of the program and to plan for future programs, then an evaluation at the conclusion is in order. Its purpose is twofold: 1) to examine what was done and how well, and 2) to learn what could be done differently in the future.
Ongoing and conclusion evaluations may occur together or separately. The first evaluation seeks to improve the ongoing program, and the second evaluation seeks improvement for future programs.
Just as there are many functions to be served by evaluation, there are a number of techniques that may be employed. The technique used should be relatively uncomplicated and not too time-consuming. Too many times an evaluation instrument defeats its own purpose because of its lengthiness and complicated reporting system.
Keep It Simple
Keep your evaluation method simple and to the point. Some techniques or instruments that can be used for evaluation include:
- Response checklists
- Progress reports
- Observation forms and reports
- Descriptive reports
- Group discussions
- School newspaper surveys
- Suggestion boxes
- Random telephone surveys
- Comments from the community
- Open meetings
- Process reports
- Records of participation
- Inventories (how much of something was used, requested, etc.)
How to Evaluate
The following are some tips to use when planning an evaluation:
- Decide what you want to evaluate. (Achievement of goals, how good the program is, how smoothly the program operated, program outcomes)
- Decide how the evaluation results will be used. (To refine or improve the program, to prepare a report, to develop a new program, to gain broader support for the program)
- Decide when the evaluation should take place. (At different times throughout the program, at the end)
- Decide who will be involved in the evaluation. (Teachers, students, administrators, parents, members of the community)
- Decide what kinds of information need to be collected, what methods will be used to collect the information, and how the information will be analyzed.
- Decide how the findings of the evaluation will be reported and to whom.
- Decide what to do with the feedback from reviewers of the evaluation.
Questions to be Considered in Making an Evaluation
- Here are some general questions to ask that will assist you in evaluating an activity.
- Did the activity help achieve the intended goal?
- Was adequate preparation made; were plans made for any eventuality?
- Was work evenly divided among planners?
- Were people involved given ample information?
- Were all necessary people contacted?
- Were all necessary supplies and materials obtained and in place?
- How did those in attendance or participating react?
- What tips do you have for improvement?
General Evaluation Questions
Here are some general questions to ask that will assist you in evaluating your organization. You might want each member to answer these questions and then compile a composite based on the answers.
- Are the purposes of the organization well defined so that members and others clearly understand the place of the organization in the school?
- Do the members discuss problems objectively? Intelligently?
- When constructive suggestions or criticisms are made by outsiders, are they accepted in a positive manner?
- Is there a permissive, democratic atmosphere in meetings?
- Do all members of the student body know something about the work and goals of your organization?
- Does the organization enlist the active assistance of other students and faculty members?
- Does the organization have a direct influence on the life of the school?
- Is the organization involved in positive, constructive projects rather than involved in busywork or trying to run the school?
- Do members have original ideas to improve their organization and the school?
- Do the activities unify the organization and the school?
- Does the organization successfully strive to build attitudes and concepts for democratic living?
- Do students and faculty members cooperate with the organization by serving on committees and becoming interested in the activities and projects?
- Have traditional divisions between faculty and students disappeared?
- Is serious consideration given to the qualifications of officers at election time?
- Are the finances, elections, and regular meetings carried on in a businesslike fashion?
- Are the students really given an opportunity to voice their views on important matters affecting their welfare?
- Are the students in the organization trying to usurp authority and responsibilities of others?
- Are provisions made through forums and open discussions for all the students to participate?
- Does the organization in any way associate itself with activities outside the school or gain the attention or interest of persons outside the school?
- Is there a good publicity program designed to further the work of the organization?
- Does the faculty, in its meetings, ever discuss the work of the organization and how to promote it?
- Are there arrangements for informing new students and faculty members about the work of the organization and enlisting their interest and support?
- Is there continuous evaluation and assessment of the organization and its activities?
Qualities of Successful Evaluation
When going through the process of evaluation, keep in mind that your evaluation should have the following characteristics. It should:
- Be constructive
- Be directed toward action
- Measure what it says it measures
- Contribute to purposes, thought, process of the group and school
- Record strengths and weaknesses for self and others
- Point toward future action
- Be continuous
- Be simple and uncomplicated
- Be reliable and valid