How to Use Program Evaluation to Address this Challenge
"One day I needed to go to Boston. Accidentally I took a wrong exit from the highway, and I ended up taking a different way to get to the place I wanted."
In the above example, your journey had slipped. However, you could finally find other ways to get back to your original direction. As a program implementer, your program might show similar slippage. The program might not be able to meet its goal(s) or is not quite able to do what it is intended to do. Many programs experience what is called program slippage. For example, in the case of the analogy above, when you got lost, you might not have reached the intended place on time, or you might have had to buy more gasoline, or even worse you might have become completely lost. How can you tell that your program is slipping? How can you stop this slippage? How can you prevent this problem from happening and how can program evaluation be helpful?
How to Tell if Your Program is Slipping
To be able to tell that the program is doing what it is intended to do, you need to be always aware of your goal(s). This is the direction in the journey of your program. You might try doing a logic model (please see Logic Models Make It Easier to Run Towards the Goal).
Evaluate the program to have a picture of what you have accomplished so far by comparing the outcomes that you have with the goal(s).
Using Program Evaluation to Stop the Program from Slipping
If you find out that your program is slipping, it is time to take a close look at evaluation findings! Please see, for example, Now We Have Some Findings: How Do We Use Them To Improve The Program. You might:
- Figure Out Your Current Position (Please see Logic Models tip sheet ) When your journey was slipping, you needed to locate where you were to find new ways to get to the original direction. You didn't need to go back to the first place where you started the journey, you just needed to find out ways to continue your journey.
- Identify your Current Strengths and Weaknesses. How much fuel, money and time do you still have? What are the resources that you have now and what are the constraints of the program? Identifying this will help you to do the next step.
- Identify New Ways from the Current Position. There will be some other ways to get to your original direction from your current condition. By doing this you identify new strategies for your program to get to the original goal(s).
Ways to Use Program Evaluation to Prevent or Avoid Program Slippage
- Consider doing a formative evaluation early in the program's life (please see Designing an Evaluation: Issues to Consider).
- Identify the check points for your program before you start your program. You know your own goal(s) that means you know the direction. You might need some check points to guide you to get to the direction. Identify the check points and they will be your stepping stones to reach the goal(s).
- Schedule a periodic program evaluation. This could be either an internal or external evaluation (please see How to Do an Internal or External Evaluation).
This will help you to be aware of the progress of your program and will help you to see whether you can get to the check points or not.
by Magdalena Vedawati