Step 8. Monitor and evaluate
Measure the success of your project
Monitor and evaluate the project, and tell people about it. This is generally considered the most difficult step in education project planning and is therefore often left out of many project designs. Increasingly, however, groups who want to attract funding and support for projects are being asked to show how they will determine a project's success. Monitoring and evaluation of your education project can:
- help you make decisions and recommendations about future directions
- identify the strengths and weaknesses of your project
- enable judgments to be made about the worth of the project
- determine stakeholder and target group satisfaction
- determine the rate and level of attainment of the objectives
- monitor performance
- meet demands for accountability.
It's very rare that all aspects of a project are successful. So it is as important to identify opportunities for improving your project as it is to report on the project's successes.
Although this guide lists evaluation as Step 8, it is important to develop an effective evaluation plan early in the life of the project so the evaluation process can be built into the project design.
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Evaluation is about collecting information and keeping records that show the progress of your project, and problems and achievements against your goal and objectives. This can be done simply through recording and documenting, or in a more scientific approach which involves comparison and rigorous experimental design.
For community education projects there are two main types of project evaluation:
1. Process evaluationâ€”provides information about what is happening throughout your project development and implementation. It involves examining, describing and documenting the project's activities or processes. It is the most common form of evaluation undertaken in community education projects and is characterised by qualitative assessment.
- Decide on the methods you'll use to assess your project. Common process evaluation methods include documentation and description, discussions and observations, focus group questioning, participant and opinion leader surveys, monitoring of participation rates, expert or peer reviews, audits, and trialling of project components.
- Process evaluation will help with quality assurance and the continuous improvement of your project. It provides information about the appropriateness of your project's content and methods.
- Keep records such as photographic and written evidence of key activities to show the progress of your project.
- Tell people about your results and use the evaluation information to make improvements to your project.
2. Impact evaluationâ€”assesses the overall effectiveness of a project in achieving its stated goal and objectives. It generally requires some form of planned evaluation design that will measure impact over time and determine whether that impact was the result of your project. Impact evaluation usually requires significant resources and expertise, particularly if experimental and quasi-experimental designs are used. Impact evaluation is often characterised by quantitative assessment methods.
- If you want to do this type of evaluation, seek the advice of a professional who has experience in designing and conducting evaluations.
- Professional evaluators can provide advice on the evaluation design, the sample size, internal and external validity, and the evaluation procedure.
- How will we know if we've achieved our goal and objectives?
- How will we measure the effectiveness of the project?
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Questions you can ask
- Is the project reaching the target community?
- What have been the strengths and weaknesses of our project?
- How will we gather the information we need to determine the success of the project?
- Who will be interested in the evaluation of our project?
- What will we do with the information we collect as a result of monitoring and evaluating our project?
- How could the project be improved? What worked, what didn't, and why?
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Case Study: Shoalhaven Business
Monitoring and evaluation
- a pre-project telephone survey
- monthly monitoring through Steering Committee
- assessment of practices through environmental review process
- monitoring of media coverage
- post-project interviews to determine perceived value of project
- a report summarising strengths, weaknesses and outcomes, with recommendations for future work.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011