Key methods for collecting information for an evaluation are described below and include: intake forms, surveys, interviews, focus groups, observations, and program documents/program records. (More Information)

Intake Forms

  • Used by programs to collect data they need to know to provide services, like someone's age or relationship status, and number of children. Intake forms can also collect other helpful information, such as socioeconomic status, and where a participant heard about the program.


  • Usually paper and pencil, computer-assisted, in-person or phone data collection methods where responses to open- and close-ended questions are received
  • Typically standardized, so each participant experiences the survey the same
  • Formats include questionnaires, pre-tests and post-tests


  • Face-to-face or phone discussions with participants and program staff
  • More intimate than focus groups, and the discussions that result are usually more free-flowing and varied than information collected through surveys or forms

Focus Groups

  • Like group interviews
  • A small number of individuals are gathered to talk about various issues
  • Offers opportunity to use one person's response to generate further comments from another group member


  • The evaluator either unobtrusively or as a participant watches service delivery and other interactions
  • Allows for documentation of the feel and environment of a class
  • Provides the basis for rich descriptions that allow evaluation report readers to imagine the program

Program Documents/Program Records

  • Written materials about the program and/or its operations
  • Program documents may include the funding application, reports to funders, curriculum materials, and instructor job descriptions and resumes
  • Program records include attendance logs and session logs (filled out by instructors to assess the quantity and quality of instruction provided)

Other Resources