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Dr. Suzan Ayers Western Michigan University

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1 Evaluation Planning III: Identifying and Selecting the Evaluation Questions and Criteria
Dr. Suzan Ayers Western Michigan University (courtesy of Dr. Mary Schutten)

2 Evaluation Questions Evaluations are conducted to answer questions and to apply criteria to judge the value of something Evaluation Questions provide the direction and foundation for the evaluation They articulate the focus of the study

3 Criteria and Standards
Criteria: used to identify the characteristics of a successful program (measure) Standards: designate the level of performance the program must achieve on these criteria to be deemed a success (performance) Without standards, evaluator can not judge the results, without criteria unable to judge the program itself

4 Phases of Identifying and Selecting Questions
Divergent phase: a comprehensive “laundry list” of potentially important questions and concerns [many sources, all questions are listed] Convergent phase: evaluators select from the “laundry list” the most critical questions to be answered Criteria are developed after the convergent phase

5 Divergent Phase Sources
Questions, concerns, values of stakeholders Policy makers (legislators, board members) Administrators, managers (direct program) Practitioners (operate program) Primary consumers (clients, students, patients) Secondary consumers (affected audiences) What is their perception of the program? What Qs or concerns do they have? How well do they think it is doing? What would they change if given the chance?

6 Stakeholder Interview Questions fig 12.1
What is your general perception of the program? What do you think of it? What do you perceive as the purposes? What do you think the program theory is? What concerns do you have about the program? Outcomes? Operations? What major questions would you like the evaluation to answer? Why? How could you use the information provided by these questions?

7 Use of evaluation models/approaches
Objectives-oriented: are goals defined and to what extent are they achieved? Management-oriented: questions about CIPP; context (need), input (design), process (implementation), product (outcomes) Participant-oriented: consider all stakeholders and listen to what they have to say. Process of program is critical Consumer-oriented: checklists and sets of criteria to help determine what to study & what standards to apply Expertise-oriented: standards and critiques that reflect the view of the experts in the field

8 Findings and issues raised in the literature in the field of the program
Evaluator should be conversant with salient issues in the program’s area Use existing literature to help develop causative models and questions to guide the evaluations Literature search may be a useful start to the planning process

9 Professional standards, checklists, instruments, and criteria developed or used elsewhere
Standards for practice exist in many fields, including PE and athletics Views and knowledge of expert consultants If expertise in the content area, they may provide a neutral and broader view They can be asked to generate a list of questions and can identify previous evaluations of similar programs

10 Evaluator’s own professional judgment (p. 244)
Trained to raise thoughtful questions Is the purpose of the program really serving an important purpose? Are goals and objectives consistent with documented needs? What critical elements and events should be studied and observed? Summarizing suggestions from multiple sources P

11 Convergent Phase Three reasons to reduce to the range of variables
There will always be a budget limit If the study gets very complicated, it gets harder and harder manage Audience attention span is limited Who should be involved? Evaluator Stakeholders Sponsor Parties affected by the evaluation

12 Determining Which Questions to Study (Cronbach, 1980)
Who would use the information? Who wants to know? Who will be upset if this question is dropped? Would an answer to the question reduce uncertainty or give info not now available? Would the answer to the question yield important information? Is this question merely of passing interest or does it focus on critical issues of continued interest? Would the scope of the evaluation be seriously limited if this question were dropped? Is it feasible to answer this question given the available financial and human resources? Time? Methods? Technology?

13 Convergent Phase Sit down with sponsor and/or client and review the laundry list and the items marked as “doable” (from 12.2 matrix) Reduce the list via consensus Advisory board typical format Provide the new list with a short explanation indicating why each is important and share with stakeholders

14 Matrix for Selecting Questions Fig 12.2
Would the evaluation question…. Be of interest to key audiences? Reduce present uncertainty? Yield important information Be of continuing (not fleeting) interest? Be critical to the study’s scope? Have an impact on the course of events? Be answerable in terms of $$, time, methods/technology?

15 Criteria and Standards
Developed to reflect the degree of difference that would be considered meaningful enough to adopt the new program Absolute Standard: a defined level is met/not met Learn stakeholders’ range of expectations and determine standards from that Relative Standard: comparison to other groups or standards Typically use the statistical concept of significance and effect size to determine if the program is “that much better” than what is in place (p. 253 expl)

16 Flexible (not indecisive)
Allow new question, criteria, and standards to emerge Remember, the goal for this step is to lay the foundation to create a meaningful and useful evaluation

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