Assessment, Research & EvaluationProcess
Define program objectives and expected outcomes:
Clearly stated objectives—that flow from the program’s overall goals—are vital to foster stakeholder agreement, achieve program coherence, and establish standards for measurement. Needs-assessments can support this process. Program objectives should clearly anticipate the expected learning, behavioral or other outcomes. Realism and measurability are hallmarks of effective objectives and expected outcomes. For grant-funded projects, objective-setting is normally done at the proposal stage.
Plan program and design assessment:
Program activities and processes must be crafted to reasonably accomplish the agreed-upon objectives. As a program blueprint emerges, assessment procedures must be designed to appraise the efficacy of program elements and track broad outcomes. The latter often entails the measurement of learning. To enhance the findings’ validity and reliability, it is advisable to use both quantitative and qualitative methodology. The assessment plan should be clearly articulated and discussed, as well as flexible enough to adjust to changing circumstances. A variety of process and logic models are available that can assist in creating an internally consistent plan. Baseline assessments, if required, should be conducted at this point.
Implement program:
Once funding, design, administrative, and logistic issues are settled, program activities typically begin.
Gather data:
Keeping with the stated assessment plan, data must be collected on an ongoing basis regarding program processes and outcomes. It is critical that procedures are consistent so data can be validly compared over time. Creating databases is an excellent way of storing data and facilitating later analysis.
Analyze and interpret data:
Incoming data should be promptly analyzed to identify emerging patterns and trends. Though the methods used vary depending on the type of data, it is always necessary to keep the program’s objectives clearly in mind. Internal stakeholders then thoroughly review the findings to explore their practical significance.
Reexamine objectives/adjust program plans:
At key points in the development process, it is critical to reevaluate the appropriateness of a program’s articulated objectives. Assessment findings can help refine existing objectives and identify new ones. More importantly, program plans, activities and procedures must be regularly examined in light of assessment findings. In addition to identifying program strengths and shortcomings, data may suggest ways of extending present successes and/or remedying problems or weaknesses.
Implement changes:
Ongoing programs, activities, and procedures are modified in light of the above conclusions.

The Assessment Process

A program’s success is maximized when program development and assessment are intricately linked. This eight-step model outlines a proven approach for integrating the two, demonstrating a successful assessment process.


Define program objectives and expected outcomes:

Clearly stated objectives—that flow from the program’s overall goals—are vital to foster stakeholder agreement, achieve program coherence, and establish standards for measurement. Needs-assessments can support this process. Program objectives should clearly anticipate the expected learning, behavioral or other outcomes. Realism and measurability are hallmarks of effective objectives and expected outcomes. For grant-funded projects, objective-setting is normally done at the proposal stage.

Plan program and design assessment:

Program activities and processes must be crafted to reasonably accomplish the agreed-upon objectives. As a program blueprint emerges, assessment procedures must be designed to appraise the efficacy of program elements and track broad outcomes. The latter often entails the measurement of learning. To enhance the findings’ validity and reliability, it is advisable to use both quantitative and qualitative methodology. The assessment plan should be clearly articulated and discussed, as well as flexible enough to adjust to changing circumstances. A variety of process and logic models are available that can assist in creating an internally consistent plan. Baseline assessments, if required, should be conducted at this point.

Implement program:

Once funding, design, administrative, and logistic issues are settled, program activities typically begin.

Gather data:

Keeping with the stated assessment plan, data must be collected on an ongoing basis regarding program processes and outcomes. It is critical that procedures are consistent so data can be validly compared over time. Creating databases is an excellent way of storing data and facilitating later analysis.

Analyze and interpret data:

Incoming data should be promptly analyzed to identify emerging patterns and trends. Though the methods used vary depending on the type of data, it is always necessary to keep the program’s objectives clearly in mind. Internal stakeholders then thoroughly review the findings to explore their practical significance.

Reexamine objectives/adjust program plans:

At key points in the development process, it is critical to reevaluate the appropriateness of a program’s articulated objectives. Assessment findings can help refine existing objectives and identify new ones. More importantly, program plans, activities and procedures must be regularly examined in light of assessment findings. In addition to identifying program strengths and shortcomings, data may suggest ways of extending present successes and/or remedying problems or weaknesses.

Implement changes:

Ongoing programs, activities, and procedures are modified in light of the above conclusions.

Gather data:

The cycle repeats itself until the program concludes.


The process of working with the DLC on assessment and evaluation for your program can be arranged in the early stages, when you’re defining objectives and outcomes. Contact us to learn more about how we can support your program’s needs.

Contact:

DLC Assessment Staff, learningcenter@purdue.edu