Evaluation Basics

You take pride in providing appropriate quality services that consumers can benefit from. Program evaluation allows you to assess your progress on two fronts:

  1. How well your organization is delivering its services (i.e., the process) and
  2. The impact of those services on your target population (i.e., outcomes).

Evaluating the process and monitoring outcomes

The term "process evaluation" refers to a systematic method of assessing program implementation. The goal is to use collected data to describe how a program (or entire organization) is operating compared with the manner in which the program was intended to operate. This comparison provides feedback to organizations on how well they are putting their plans into action and points out areas that may need improvement.

Process evaluation seeks to answer questions such as the following:

  • How many participants were served per month?
  • What are the characteristics of these participants?
  • How much staff time is devoted per participant?
  • How long does it take for participants to complete the program?

An “outcome (or impact) evaluation” provides a picture of the results or effectiveness of a program in achieving its intended goals.

Outcome evaluation seeks to answer questions such as the following:

  • Did participants improve their physical activity skills?
  • Did participants attend the program three times a week?
  • Did rates of diabetes decrease?
  • Did delivery of this service make any difference in terms of achieving specified program goals?

Outcome and process evaluations are interconnected. Understanding how well a program has been implemented is vital to interpreting the results of an outcome evaluation.