Evaluation & research methods
This section provides a number of key guides on methods for doing your own evaluation and research. The focus is on understanding your approach, choosing appropriate methods and how to put them into practice, especially in non-profit and voluntary organisations.
You can download Taking Stock: A Practical Guide to Evaluating Your Own Programs (Adobe PDF 248kb) by Horizon Research. This is an excellent, step-by-step primer for first-time do-it-yourself evaluators. It walks the reader through from 'Why evaluate?' to 'Making sense of the evidence', with plenty of examples and samples. (Although designed for community-based organisations promoting maths and science to young people, it can easily be applied to other causes.)
The W K Kellogg Foundation (www.wkkf.org) has produced a very useful Evaluation Handbook. It provides a good overview of approaches to evaluation and a detailed blueprint for project-level evaluation. The handbook is available in print or CD format, but appears to be no longer available as a download. This is a part of the Foundation's on-line Evaluation Toolkit, which includes help on:
- where to start
- evaluation approaches
- evaluation questions
- the evaluation plan (including data collection, quantitative and qualitative data analysis, reporting, and using findings)
- evaluation budgeting
- hiring and managing an evaluator.
Ya-Lin Liu and Gene Shackman have collated a useful set of Resources for Methods in Evaluations and Social Research. It is published by the International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publication and lists free resources for methods in evaluation and social research. The focus is on 'how-to' do evaluation research and the methods used: surveys, focus groups, sampling, interviews, and other methods.
University of Wisconsin Extension Programme Development and Evaluation, in fulfilling its role in "leadership and capacity building in programme evaluation", has developed a number of very useful web-based resources. It includes:
Joy Frechtling developed the excellent 2002 User Friendly Guide to Project Evaluation (PDF 378kb) for managers working with the US National Science Foundation's educational programmes. It is aimed at people with little previous experience in what project evaluation could offer and how to do it. It includes quantitative and qualitative methods and how they can be used to complement each other. Sections cover different types of evaluation, steps in doing an evaluation, quantitative and qualitative data collection methods, and strategies that address culturally responsive evaluations. It also includes a good glossary of common evaluation terms.
Joy Frechtling's Guide, in part, draws on her earlier User-Friendly Handbook for Mixed Method Evaluations (1997), which includes a very useful overview on qualitative methods, as well as 'how to' guides on designing, selecting and reporting mixed (qualitative and quantitative) method approaches.
Donald Ratcliff has collected a useful array of resources on qualitative research, including a 5 part seminar on qualitative research basics, and a number of articles on guidelines, methods and resources.
On a more basic level, Carter McNamara (a US-based non-profit consultant) has developed as a part of his on-line Free Management Library basic guides to Evaluation Activities in Organisations and Research Methods, including useful links on the various topics covered, such as:
- planning your research
- choosing methods
- appreciative inquiry
- case studies
- focus groups
- surveys and questionnaires
- analysing, interpreting and reporting results
- ethics and research.
A useful website has been developed by Children, Youth & Families Education & Research Network (CYFERNet) on 5 alternative methods:
- using focus groups,
- cost analysis,
- portfolio assessment,
- qualitative interviews, and
- existing records for evaluation.
If you haven't found what you want already, Mary Sue Stephenson, University of British Colombia has collated an amazing library of links to Research Methods Resources on the Web. It includes sections on: