Program evaluation can answer questions like:
Is the program meeting the intended needs?
Who does the program serve?
Is the program cost-effective?
Has the program achieved it's expected outcomes?
What are people doing differently as a result of the program?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the program? Which activities contribute most? Were there unintended consequences of
Program evaluation can be done at different points during the life of a program:
Needs assessment - before a program begins to determine the need of the program and how it could be addressed
Process evaluation - during the initial stages of implementation to see if the program is being carried out as planned
Outcome evaluation - as the program matures to see if its objectives are being met
Impact evaluation - at full maturation to determine what expected or unforeseen impacts the program had
Myth #1 : Evaluation is only about determining the success or failure of a program.
This reaction stems from the idea that programs are static and that the ideal program will run itself 'perfectly'. This is not real life. Needs change, environments change, resources change. Remaining open to meet the challenge of change through continuing feedback is an opportunity provided by evaluation.
Myth # 2: Program Evaluation is just another passing fad and a waste of time.
Evaluation is in the best interests of everyone involved in the program. It supports program sustainability for longer term resource planning.
Myth # 3: Program evaluation is done in a certain time in a certain way and collects tedious data with useless conclusions.
An evaluation is systematic and tailored to the unique elements of a program. Data collected and conclusions drawn are focused on program utility, relevance and practicality.