These can be ordered in any number of ways (some people suggest four stages, some six, some ten), but essentially what you want to do in an evaluation is:
- decide what you need to find out
- create a process for collecting the data you need
- analyse the data and reflect on what it means.
Step 1: Describe the program: (identify the program plan – program goal, target population, objectives, interventions, processes and resources)
Step 2: Evaluation preview: (engage stakeholders; clarify the purpose of the evaluation; identify key questions; identify evaluation resources)
Step 3: Focus the evaluation design: (specify the evaluation design; specify data collection methods; locate or develop data collection instruments)
Step 4: Collect data: (coordinate data collection)
Step 5: Analyse and interpret data: (analyse the findings; interpret the findings)
Step 6: Disseminate lessons learnt: (what reports will be prepared; what formats will be used; how will findings be disseminated) (Round et al 2005).
Whether it is three, six or ten stages, it is important that you develop a clear process, you inform the right people about it (and get ethics approval if you need it – more on that below), and that you are rigorous in your analysis so that the findings have credibility.