Resources for Practitioners

Taking the first steps to plan an evaluation can be intimidating. How do you know what kind(s) of evaluation you should plan? How do you choose an evaluator? What information should you provide the evaluator to produce the information you need? How do you know what information you need? How do you judge whether an evaluation design is appropriate and adequate?

This page provides links to a wide range of resources to help you get started and dig deeper as the program – and the evaluation – progress and evolve. The publications and Web sites are written for people with various levels of expertise, so you will want to spend some time clicking through the lists to see which best fit your needs.  They are organized into three broad categories: basic how-to guides and toolkits; publications providing more detailed explanations of design, terms, methods, etc.; and documents with more technical detail and guides from specific organizations, such as the National Science Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation.

BASIC GUIDES AND TOOLKITS

 

PELL INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF OPPORTUNITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Evaluation Toolkit
Step-by-step toolkit with explanations of evaluation types

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Evaluation Toolkit for Magnet School Programs
Step-by-step toolkit for common approaches

NATIONAL FORUM ON EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAM EVALUATION
Early Childhood Program Evaluations: A Decision-Maker’s Guide
Checklist and advice for reading evaluations and forming your own, independent opinion

COALITION FOR EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY
User-Friendly Guides to Research/Evaluation

UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Evaluation Resources
Web page provides tip sheets on issues related to performance management and evaluation. Topics include “Preparing an Evaluation Statement of Work,” “Conducting Mixed Method Evaluations,” and “Conducting Data Quality Assessments”

A LITTLE MORE DETAIL: DESIGN, METHODS, TERMS, ETC.

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

  • Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund Evidence & Evaluation Webinar, April 25, 2012

Good descriptions of DOE’s standards for providing evidence of an intervention’s promise and conducting outcomes evaluations

OTHER SOURCES
Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation, 3rd Edition,
Chapter 1: Planning and Designing Useful Evaluations

Very readable explanations of different kinds of evaluations, advice on methodological issues, and graphics to make processes more accessible. Full text is available for sale.

NORTH CENTRAL REGIONAL EDUCATIONAL LABORATORY
Critical Issue: Using Scientifically Based Research to Guide Educational Decisions
Uses layman’s terms and useful examples to explain the Department of Education’s expectations for scientifically based research

URBAN INSTITUTE
Evaluation Strategies for Human Services Programs: A Guide for Policymakers and Providers
Lots of essential information, including good definitions, explanations, and examples, and helpful discussions of pros and cons

CORNELL PROFESSOR WILLIAM M.K. TROCHIM’S RESEARCH METHODS KNOWLEDGE BASE
Evaluation Research
Pithy, accessible definitions and discussions

JOINT COMMITTEE ON STANDARDS FOR EDUCATIONAL EVALUATION
Program Evaluation Standards
List of standards for evaluations of education programs, with links to a book providing a much fuller treatment

CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

  • Program Evaluation Resources
    Note particularly the Evaluation Briefs, two-page documents on such topics as “Logic Model Basics” and “Integrating the Strategic Plan, Logic Model, and Workplan”

Introduction to Program Evaluation for Public Health Programs: A Self-Study Guide
Guidance for traditional program evaluation; useful if experimental or quasi-experimental methods are not practical or feasible

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN/ WHAT WORKS, WISCONSIN: RESEARCH TO PRACTICE SERIES
Evidence-based programs: An overview
Explains the need for rigorous evidence supporting programs; provides some information on evaluating available evidence

AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION “CIRCULATION”
Qualitative and Mixed Methods Provide Unique Contributions to Outcomes Research
Discusses the value of using mixed methods and describes techniques to build rigor 

 

INTO THE WEEDS: MORE TECHNICAL DETAIL & GUIDES FROM SPECIFIC ORGANIZATIONS

 

UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE
Designing Evaluations, 2012 Revision

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
The 2010 User-Friendly Handbook for Project Evaluation

W.K. KELLOGG FOUNDATION

US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES OFFICE OF PLANNING, RESEARCH AND EVALUATION
The Program Manager’s Guide to Evaluation, Second Edition

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO/CENTER FOR ADVANCING RESEARCH AND COMMUNICATION
Evaluation Resources
(Scroll down to “Guidelines, Toolkits and Other Resources for Evaluation Research”)

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
Scientific Research in Education