Embracing Evaluation

How do you know if your prevention program is effective?  Are you seeing the positive outcomes that you hoped to see?  Is the program “worth its weight”?  

Do these questions sound familiar?  As you are probably aware, many funders are asking these very questions about prevention programs.    In the current political and financial climate, there is a critical need to evaluate our sexual violence prevention efforts and document the impact that these programs have on the individuals and communities they are targeting.

When working at the local level, I knew evaluation was important.  But what I lacked was the time, skills, and resources to do it.  Evaluation was always at the bottom of my priority list.  Frankly, the very word evaluation frightened me.  I was not a researcher.   I nearly failed my Intro to Statistics class in college.  What did I know about evaluating a program?

One thing that I’ve heard loud and clear from preventionists over the last few years is that they need resources and guidance around program evaluation.  In fact, the NSVRC’s recently released Prevention Assessment: Year 3 Report noted that many preventionists recognize the importance of evaluation and have a strong desire to implement evaluation strategies.  However, what some lack are the skills and/or resources with which to carry out the evaluation.  

The NSVRC has developed a new resource to help fill this void.  The newly released interactive online course, Evaluating Sexual Violence Prevention Programs: Steps and Strategies for Preventionists, walks the user through the basic steps of evaluating the impact of sexual violence prevention programs. 

It’s our hope that the course will serve as a starting point to help users identify where their program has the skills and resources to do evaluation and where they may need some help.  I’ve had many conversations with preventionists, and I know they have a desire to provide the best and most effective prevention programming possible.   And personally, I hope that this course will be a starting point for those preventionists out there who may be feeling a bit intimidated by the evaluation process.  I’ve been there, and I’m still working to increase my knowledge and skills in evaluation.  It’s an ongoing learning process.  So, join me in the adventure!  Take the course, and then let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.