Jump to: Process Evaluation | Outcomes Evaluation
A program evaluation is the systematic gathering of data in order to measure the impact of your program on participants and better understand its effectiveness. Such an evaluation is an important component of high-quality intergenerational work because it can help you:
- Identify your program’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Make mid-course corrections.
- Develop credibility for the program.
- Market the program to participants and partners.
- Plan future activities.
- Acquire additional funding from funding agencies or your own organization.
Note that the likelihood of being able to show that your program brought about a change in participants is far greater when participants engage in multiple sessions rather than a one-time event.
Investing energy in designing an evaluation that is thoughtful and doable is well worth the effort. If you feel you don’t have the capacity to undertake such an evaluation, you may want to reach out to a local college or university to see if students are available to help you.
Kinds of EVALUATION
There are two major types of evaluation—process and outcome. If possible, it is best to use both when assessing your program.
A process evaluation attempts to understand what happens during the development and implementation of a program. This kind of evaluation measures what your program provides and the characteristics of the individuals who receive services. It can help you understand why a program did or did not meet its goals.
Here are some questions you might ask during a process evaluation:
- How many children, families, and older adults are involved in the program?
- On average, how many hours of contact do older adults and youth have per month?
- What roles do younger and older participants play in program planning?
- Are activities implemented as planned or were modifications needed?
- What barriers to implementation have we encountered?
- What strategies have we used to overcome these barriers?
- How satisfied are participants with the program? (See Appendix E for an example of a short satisfaction survey you can use after a program ends.)
- What do participants like about the program?
- What do participants dislike about the program?
- How long do residents and youth typically stay involved in the program?
An outcome evaluation measures the impact of a program and addresses crucial questions about program effectiveness by analyzing its immediate results and long-term impact. Typical outcome data measure:
- Increases in knowledge.
- Changes in attitudes or values.
- Modification of behaviors.
- Improvement in conditions.
To evaluate outcomes, develop questions that measure the degree to which you achieved your desired results. Here are some questions you might ask:
- What impact did the program have on the outcomes you are addressing? Impacts may include:
- General well-being, including health, life satisfaction, self-confidence, socialization skills, and generativity, which is the need to nurture and guide younger people and contribute to the next generation.
- Academic outcomes, including grades, reading/test scores, school attendance, classroom behavior, improved study skills, and second language proficiency.
- Attitudes toward other generations.
- Attitudes toward civic participation.
- Were there unexpected benefits for younger and older participants?
- What types of activities promoted the greatest level of interaction between participants?
- What types of activities increased the level of trust and understanding between generations?
- In what ways, if any, were participants negatively affected by the program?
- What impact did the program have on the participating organizations?
- What impact did the program have on the community?
Outcomes can be measured for older adults, youth, and organizations. Here are some commonly measured outcomes related to youth and older adults.
Older Adult Outcomes. Outcomes for older adults might include improvements in:
- Life satisfaction and well-being.
- Sense of connectedness to others and/or the community.
- Attitudes toward youth.
- Physical health, including enhanced energy, stamina, or strength.
- Engagement with social and physical environments, particularly among persons with dementia.
- Extent of social networks.
Youth Outcomes. Outcomes for youth might include improvements in:
- Sense of social responsibility.
- School behavior.
- Attitudes toward older people.
- Life skills, including problem-solving, decision-making, and communication.
- Academic achievement.
- Reading skills.
Organizational Outcomes. Outcomes for organizations might include improvements in:
- Staff retention.
- Organizational climate.
- Staff/teacher morale