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Program and Outcome Evaluations

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Process and outcome evaluation are the first two common areas of focus for the empowerment evaluation approach. (Yuen/Terao, 2003) The characteristic of process evaluation is that they provide a quantitative description of how the program was carried out. Documenting and monitoring the planning, implementation, and interrelationship of the components of the proposed project are all focuses of the process evaluation. Process evaluation allows the organization to look at how it develops itself, its structures, and how supporting programs, and even fund development in order to get the outcome everyone wants to achieve. An example of a process evaluation questions might include: What specific interventions were put into place by the program in order to fight the problem? Did they work or not, and how and why? What were the kinds of problems encountered? Were there enough resources from the beginning? Was the staff trained or educated to the right level? And was there adequate support to the program? The information from the process evaluation is useful for understanding how program impact and outcome were achieved. Looking at outcomes – without analyzing how they were achieved – fails to account for the human capital (over worked staff) involved in getting to good outcomes and the true costs of the program.

The type of evaluation most commonly used by organizations is the outcome evaluation. Outcome evaluations access the effectiveness of a program in producing change. Questions asked in an outcome evaluation focuses on things such as; what happened to the program participants? How much of a difference did the program made for them? To give an example of an outcome evaluation would be; Did the program help people? Was the program a success with certain groups more than others? What aspects of the program give the greatest benefit?

While seemingly cold and blunt, evaluations ensure that the maximum resources go to those who need them most. Funders want to ensure that their programs have a maximum positive effect on a given program.

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