Evaluation Evolution

A big part of our campaign process is taking the time to reflect, capture and plan after the completion of a SAAM campaign. That is to say, evaluation is in season here at NSVRC, and a peer into the blog archives reminds me that I saw singing a similar tune around Mid-May last year when blogging “Evaluate this!

The process of evaluating SAAM is evolving, and this is consistent with the growth of the campaign and the skills of our team when it comes to evaluation. Recently at NSVRC we’ve been having dynamic conversations about evaluation, because we know this process can increase the value of our work. Evaluation, such as feedback and assessment, has a lot to teach us, and each lesson learned has the potential to improve processes, outcomes and effectiveness.

Formal evaluation was a very new idea to me when I began working on the SAAM campaign. At first, evaluation meant one thing to me: surveys! I still think that surveys are a great way of capturing feedback and data, but tools such as this online learning course  have taught me that’s really just one piece of the pie. There are many types of evaluation, a cornucopia of tools, and it all depends on the goals and objectives you are looking to achieve. Surveys are one great option of many, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to evaluation.

Evaluation is more like deciding on a flavor of ice cream than following a predetermined script. If you are anything like me, this might mean sampling 2-3 flavors before you settle for a bowl with a few different scoops. So how do you determine what’s best for your campaign or program? The first step is determining your goals, and with goals in mind you can begin to explore the many evaluation tools out there.

If you are just starting out on an evaluation journey, I highly recommend you check out the following free online course Evaluating Sexual Violence Prevention Programs: Steps and Strategies for PreventionistsIt takes just a few minutes to register as an NSVRC e-campus user, and this brief and interactive course will walk you through a 4 step program evaluation process.

For those looking to explore new tools and approaches in evaluation, check out our recently revamped webpage on Planning, Implementation and Evaluation.

We’d also love to hear from you as we evaluate our 2013 SAAM Campaign, and invite you to participate in and share the SAAM 2013 Feedback Survey.

As we continue to delve into our evaluation explorations, I hope to share reflections and ideas on the blog. Trial and error are great teachers in my book, and we'd love to hear your lessons learned as well. How has your understanding of evaluation evolved? What evaluation tools would you recommend?