Whatever your comfort level is with evaluation, it is important to be an informed consumer. Knowing what role you play in an evaluation and what to expect from your evaluator will make the process less intimidating and ensure that you get the information you need to make program improvements and share program successes with your funders and other stakeholders.
A successful collaboration between you and your evaluator requires a clear articulation of roles, responsibilities, and expectations, which are best discussed during the Planning Stage.
Provider Roles and Responsibilities
Describe your marriage/relationship education program to your evaluator; its activities, target population, why you expect your program to work, and your definition of program success
Communicate what you want to learn from the evaluation
- Are the participants receiving the program well?
- Is the curriculum appropriate? Does it lead to changes in knowledge and/or attitudes?
- Can an intervention that is successful in another community be successfully adapted to fit your community?
- Are your facilitators effective?
Describe how you want the evaluation findings to be used, for example:
- To document program activities and positive outcomes for current and/or new funders
- To make program improvements and adjustments i.e. facilitator training, curriculum changes, service delivery strategies
Evaluator Roles and Responsibilities
- Ask questions to ensure you understand the nature of the program, its goals and underlying logic
- Understand what the client wants to learn from the evaluation, and how the findings will be used
- Determine whether the evaluation will need approval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and begin submission process. IRBs have been established by the federal government to protect the rights and welfare of human subjects participating in research. The IRB ensures that physical, psychological, and social risks to research subjects are minimized. For more information on IRBs go to HHS Human Subjects Research.
Items to be Negotiated (and included in the evaluation contract)
- When and how often to communicate about findings during the evaluation
- When and how often the evaluator will share findings that could have implications for program improvements
- How, when, and who will make study findings public
- Who retains possession and control of evaluation data upon study completion, and if or when data will be destroyed
- Whether evaluation data can be used for a dissertation and/or publication
- American Academy of Pediatrics. (2006). Evaluating your community-based program. Elk Grove Village, IL: Author.
- Taylor-Powell, E., Steele, S., & Douglas M. (1996). Planning a program evaluation. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Extension, Cooperative Extension.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation. The Program Manager’s Guide to Evaluation Glossary.
- "Evaluation Resource Guide for Responsible Fatherhood Program," Office of Family Assistance.