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 Step 3: Focusing the Evaluation

Focusing the evaluation is an important step to meet the information needs of stakeholders in your MCH project or program. By focusing the evaluation design, there are greater chances of the evaluation being useful, feasible, ethical, and accurate.

Consider the following elements when focusing an evaluation: 

Purpose – What is the intent of evaluating my program or project? What purpose will the evaluation serve?

Users – Who are the individuals that will receive the evaluation findings?

Uses – How will the information gathered from the evaluation be applied?

Questions – What aspects of the program will be addressed?

Methods – What method should be selected? How will this method lead to appropriate information?

Agreements – How will the evaluation plan be implemented? Who will lead the evaluation efforts?

Considerations for Purpose and Use of the Evaluation

Public health typically has four types of evaluations. Their purposes are described below:

1. Gain insight – this type of evaluation is useful when assessing the feasibility or practicality of a new or innovation approach. Information gained from this type of evaluation can be used to design a program that will be tested for effectiveness. 

    • Example uses: needs assessment, identify barriers in accessing services, describe and measure program activities
2. Change Practice – this type of evaluation is useful in the implementation stage when an established program seeks to describe what is being done. Information gained from this type of evaluation can be used to describe program processes, improve program operation, and/or enhance program strategy.
    • Example uses: refine plans for introducing  a new service, improve educational materials, enhance cultural competency protocols,
3. Assess Effects – this type of evaluation is useful in examining relationships between program activities and observed consequences. In situations where your program’s activities are similar to other existing programs, it is critical to gather credible evidence (discussed in step 4) that describes each programs contributions to the observed change.
    • Example uses: compare changes in behavior over time, economic analysis, assess skills gained by program participant, demonstrate accountability
4. Affect Participants – this type of evaluation is useful at any stage of program development. This evaluation entails using the process of evaluation itself to affect those who participate in the evaluation.
    • Example uses: reinforce program messages, raise awareness regarding health issues, teach evaluation skills to staff, support organizational change