Designing a Process Evaluation

Workbook

for Designing a Process Evaluation

Produced for the

Georgia Department of Human Resources

Division of Public Health

By

Melanie J. Bliss, M.A. James G. Emshoff, Ph.D.

Department of Psychology Georgia State University

July 2002

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002 Page 1

What is process evaluation?

Process evaluation uses empirical data to assess the delivery of programs. In contrast to outcome evaluation, which assess the impact of the program, process evaluation verifies what the program is and whether it is being implemented as designed. Thus, process evaluation asks “what,” and outcome evaluation asks, “so what?”

When conducting a process evaluation, keep in mind these three questions:

1. What is the program intended to be? 2. What is delivered, in reality? 3. Where are the gaps between program design and delivery?

This workbook will serve as a guide for designing your own process evaluation for a program of your choosing. There are many steps involved in the implementation of a process evaluation, and this workbook will attempt to direct you through some of the main stages. It will be helpful to think of a delivery service program that you can use as your example as you complete these activities. Why is process evaluation important? 1. To determine the extent to which the program is being

implemented according to plan 2. To assess and document the degree of fidelity and variability in

program implementation, expected or unexpected, planned or unplanned

3. To compare multiple sites with respect to fidelity 4. To provide validity for the relationship between the intervention

and the outcomes 5. To provide information on what components of the intervention

are responsible for outcomes 6. To understand the relationship between program context (i.e.,

setting characteristics) and program processes (i.e., levels of implementation).

7. To provide managers feedback on the quality of implementation 8. To refine delivery components 9. To provide program accountability to sponsors, the public, clients,

and funders 10. To improve the quality of the program, as the act of evaluating is

an intervention.

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002 Page 2

Stages of Process Evaluation Page Number

1. Form Collaborative Relationships 3 2. Determine Program Components 4 3. Develop Logic Model* 4. Determine Evaluation Questions 6 5. Determine Methodology 11 6. Consider a Management Information System 25 7. Implement Data Collection and Analysis 28 8. Write Report**

Also included in this workbook:

a. Logic Model Template 30 b. Pitfalls to avoid 30 c. References 31

Evaluation can be an exciting, challenging, and fun experience

Enjoy!

* Previously covered in Evaluation Planning Workshops. ** Will not be covered in this expert session. Please refer to the Evaluation Framework

and Evaluation Module of FHB Best Practice Manual for more details.

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002 Page 3

Forming collaborative relationships

A strong, collaborative relationship with program delivery staff and management will likely result in the following:

Feedback regarding evaluation design and implementation Ease in conducting the evaluation due to increased cooperation Participation in interviews, panel discussion, meetings, etc. Increased utilization of findings

Seek to establish a mutually respectful relationship characterized by trust, commitment, and flexibility.

Key points in establishing a collaborative relationship:

Start early. Introduce yourself and the evaluation team to as many delivery staff and management personnel as early as possible.

Emphasize that THEY are the experts, and you will be utilizing their knowledge and

information to inform your evaluation development and implementation.

Be respectful of their time both in-person and on the telephone. Set up meeting places that are geographically accessible to all parties involved in the evaluation process.

Remain aware that, even if they have requested the evaluation, it may often appear as

an intrusion upon their daily activities. Attempt to be as unobtrusive as possible and request their feedback regarding appropriate times for on-site data collection.

Involve key policy makers, managers, and staff in a series of meetings throughout the

evaluation process. The evaluation should be driven by the questions that are of greatest interest to the stakeholders. Set agendas for meetings and provide an overview of the goals of the meeting before beginning. Obtain their feedback and provide them with updates regarding the evaluation process. You may wish to obtained structured feedback. Sample feedback forms are throughout the workbook.

Provide feedback regarding evaluation findings to the key policy makers, managers,

and staff when and as appropriate. Use visual aids and handouts. Tabulate and summarize information. Make it as interesting as possible.

Consider establishing a resource or expert “panel” or advisory board that is an official

group of people willing to be contacted when you need feedback or have questions.

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002 Page 4

Determining Program Components

Program components are identified by answering the questions who, what, when, where, and how as they pertain to your program.

Who: the program clients/recipients and staff What: activities, behaviors, materials When: frequency and length of the contact or intervention Where: the community context and physical setting How: strategies for operating the program or intervention

BRIEF EXAMPLE: Who: elementary school students What: fire safety intervention When: 2 times per year Where: in students’ classroom How: group administered intervention, small group practice

1. Instruct students what to do in case of fire (stop, drop and roll). 2. Educate students on calling 911 and have them practice on play telephones. 3. Educate students on how to pull a fire alarm, how to test a home fire alarm and how to

change batteries in a home fire alarm. Have students practice each of these activities. 4. Provide students with written information and have them take it home to share with their

parents. Request parental signature to indicate compliance and target a 75% return rate. Points to keep in mind when determining program components Specify activities as behaviors that can be observed

If you have a logic model, use the “activities” column as a starting point

Ensure that each component is separate and distinguishable from others

Include all activities and materials intended for use in the intervention

Identify the aspects of the intervention that may need to be adapted, and those that should

always be delivered as designed. Consult with program staff, mission statements, and program materials as needed.

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002 Page 5

Your Program Components

After you have identified your program components, create a logic model that graphically portrays the link between program components and outcomes expected from these components.

Now, write out a succinct list of the components of your program. WHO: WHAT: WHEN: WHERE: HOW:

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002 Page 6

What is a Logic Model

A logical series of statements that link the problems your program is attempting to address (conditions), how it will address them (activities), and what are the expected results (immediate and intermediate outcomes, long-term goals).

Benefits of the logic model include:

helps develop clarity about a project or program, helps to develop consensus among people, helps to identify gaps or redundancies in a plan, helps to identify core hypothesis, helps to succinctly communicate what your project or program is about.

When do you use a logic model Use… – During any work to clarify what is being done, why, and with what intended results – During project or program planning to make sure that the project or program is logical and complete – During evaluation planning to focus the evaluation – During project or program implementation as a template for comparing to the actual program and as a filter to determine whether proposed changes fit or not. This information was extracted from the Logic Models: A Multi-Purpose Tool materials developed by Wellsys Corporation for the Evaluation Planning Workshop Training. Please see the Evaluation Planning Workshop materials for more information. Appendix A has a sample template of the tabular format.

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002 Page 7

Determining Evaluation Questions

As you design your process evaluation, consider what questions you would like to answer. It is only after your questions are specified that you can begin to develop your methodology. Considering the importance and purpose of each question is critical.

BROADLY…. What questions do you hope to answer? You may wish to turn the program components that you have just identified into questions assessing: Was the component completed as indicated? What were the strengths in implementation? What were the barriers or challenges in implementation? What were the apparent strengths and weaknesses of each step of the intervention? Did the recipient understand the intervention? Were resources available to sustain project activities? What were staff perceptions? What were community perceptions? What was the nature of the interaction between staff and clients?

These are examples. Check off what is applicable to you, and use the space below to write additional broad, overarching questions that you wish to answer.

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SPECIFICALLY … Now, make a list of all the specific questions you wish to answer, and organize your questions categorically. Your list of questions will likely be much longer than your list of program components. This step of developing your evaluation will inform your methodologies and instrument choice. Remember that you must collect information on what the program is intended to be and what it is in reality, so you may need to ask some questions in 2 formats. For example:

How many people are intended to complete this intervention per week?” How many actually go through the intervention during an average week?”

Consider what specific questions you have. The questions below are only examples! Some may not be appropriate for your evaluation, and you will most likely need to add additional questions. Check off the questions that are applicable to you, and add your own questions in the space provided. WHO (regarding client): Who is the target audience, client, or recipient? How many people have participated? How many people have dropped out? How many people have declined participation? What are the demographic characteristics of clients?

Race Ethnicity National Origin Age Gender Sexual Orientation Religion Marital Status Employment Income Sources Education Socio-Economic Status

What factors do the clients have in common? What risk factors do clients have? Who is eligible for participation? How are people referred to the program? How are the screened? How satisfied are the clients?

YOUR QUESTIONS:

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002 Page 9

WHO (Regarding staff): Who delivers the services? How are they hired? How supportive are staff and management of each other? What qualifications do staff have? How are staff trained? How congruent are staff and recipients with one another? What are staff demographics? (see client demographic list for specifics.)

YOUR QUESTIONS: WHAT: What happens during the intervention? What is being delivered? What are the methods of delivery for each service (e.g., one-on-one, group session, didactic instruction,

etc.) What are the standard operating procedures? What technologies are in use? What types of communication techniques are implemented? What type of organization delivers the program? How many years has the organization existed? How many years has the program been operating? What type of reputation does the agency have in the community? What about the program? What are the methods of service delivery? How is the intervention structured? How is confidentiality maintained?

YOUR QUESTIONS: WHEN: When is the intervention conducted? How frequently is the intervention conducted? At what intervals? At what time of day, week, month, year? What is the length and/or duration of each service?

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YOUR QUESTIONS: WHERE: Where does the intervention occur? What type of facility is used? What is the age and condition of the facility? In what part of town is the facility? Is it accessible to the target audience? Does public transportation access

the facility? Is parking available? Is child care provided on site?

YOUR QUESTIONS: WHY: Why are these activities or strategies implemented and why not others? Why has the intervention varied in ability to maintain interest? Why are clients not participating? Why is the intervention conducted at a certain time or at a certain frequency?

YOUR QUESTIONS:

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002 Page 11

Validating Your Evaluation Questions

Even though all of your questions may be interesting, it is important to narrow your list to questions that will be particularly helpful to the evaluation and that can be answered given your specific resources, staff, and time.

Go through each of your questions and consider it with respect to the questions below, which may be helpful in streamlining your final list of questions. Revise your worksheet/list of questions until you can answer “yes” to all of these questions. If you cannot answer “yes” to your question, consider omitting the question from your evaluation.

Validation

Yes

No

Will I use the data that will stem from these questions?

Do I know why each question is important and /or valuable?

Is someone interested in each of these questions?

Have I ensured that no questions are omitted that may be important to someone else?

Is the wording of each question sufficiently clear and unambiguous?

Do I have a hypothesis about what the “correct” answer will be for each question?

Is each question specific without inappropriately limiting the scope of the evaluation or probing for a specific response?

Do they constitute a sufficient set of questions to achieve the purpose(s) of the evaluation?

Is it feasible to answer the question, given what I know about the resources for evaluation?

Is each question worth the expense of answering it?

Derived from “A Design Manual” Checklist, page 51.

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002 Page 12

Determining Methodology Process evaluation is characterized by collection of data primarily through two formats: 1) Quantitative, archival, recorded data that may be managed by an computerized

tracking or management system, and 2) Qualitative data that may be obtained through a variety of formats, such as

surveys or focus groups.

When considering what methods to use, it is critical to have a thorough understanding and knowledge of the questions you want answered. Your questions will inform your choice of methods. After this section on types of methodologies, you will complete an exercise in which you consider what method of data collection is most appropriate for each question.

Do you have a thorough understanding of your questions?

Furthermore, it is essential to consider what data the organization you are evaluating already has. Data may exist in the form of an existing computerized management information system, records, or a tracking system of some other sort. Using this data may provide the best reflection of what is “going on,” and it will also save you time, money, and energy because you will not have to devise your own data collection method! However, keep in mind that you may have to adapt this data to meet your own needs – you may need to add or replace fields, records, or variables.

What data does your organization already have? Will you need to adapt it?

If the organization does not already have existing data, consider devising a method for the organizational staff to collect their own data. This process will ultimately be helpful for them so that they can continue to self-evaluate, track their activities, and assess progress and change. It will be helpful for the evaluation process because, again, it will save you time, money, and energy that you can better devote towards other aspects of the evaluation. Management information systems will be described more fully in a later section of this workbook.

Do you have the capacity and resources to devise such a system? (You may need to refer to a later section of this workbook before answering.)

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Who should collect the data?

Given all of this, what thoughts do you have on who should collect data for your evaluation? Program staff, evaluation staff, or some combination?

Program Staff: May collect data from activities such as attendance, demographics, participation, characteristics of participants, dispositions, etc; may conduct intake interviews, note changes regarding service delivery, and monitor program implementation.

Advantages: Cost-efficient, accessible, resourceful, available, time-efficient,

and increased understanding of the program. Disadvantages: May exhibit bias and/or social desirability, may use data for critical

judgment, may compromise the validity of the program; may put staff in uncomfortable or inappropriate position; also, if staff collect data, may have an increased burden and responsibility placed upon them outside of their usual or typical job responsibilities. If you utilize staff for data collection, provide frequent reminders as well as messages of gratitude.

Evaluation staff: May collect qualitative information regarding implementation, general characteristics of program participants, and other information that may otherwise be subject to bias or distortion.

Advantages: Data collected in manner consistent with overall goals and timeline

of evaluation; prevents bias and inappropriate use of information; promotes overall fidelity and validity of data.

Disadvantages: May be costly and take extensive time; may require additional

training on part of evaluator; presence of evaluator in organization may be intrusive, inconvenient, or burdensome.

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002 Page 14

When should data be collected?

Conducting the evaluation according to your timeline can be challenging. Consider how much time you have for data collection, and make decisions regarding what to collect and how much based on your timeline. In many cases, outcome evaluation is not considered appropriate until the program has stabilized. However, when conducting a process evaluation, it can be important to start the evaluation at the beginning so that a story may be told regarding how the program was developed, information may be provided on refinements, and program growth and progress may be noted. If you have the luxury of collecting data from the start of the intervention to the end of the intervention, space out data collection as appropriate. If you are evaluating an ongoing intervention that is fairly quick (e.g., an 8-week educational group), you may choose to evaluate one or more “cycles.” How much time do you have to conduct your evaluation? How much time do you have for data collection (as opposed to designing the evaluation, training, organizing and analyzing results, and writing the report?) Is the program you are evaluating time specific? How long does the program or intervention last? At what stages do you think you will most likely collect data?

Soon after a program has begun Descriptive information on program characteristics that will not change; information requiring baseline information During the intervention Ongoing process information such as recruitment, program implementation After the intervention Demographics, attendance ratings, satisfaction ratings

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002 Page 15

Before you consider methods

A list of various methods follows this section. Before choosing what methods are most appropriate for your evaluation, review the following questions. (Some may already be answered in another section of this workbook.)

What questions do I want answered? (see previous section)

Does the organization already have existing data, and if so, what kind?

Does the organization have staff to collect data?

What data can the organization staff collect?

Must I maintain anonymity (participant is not identified at all) or confidentiality

(participant is identified but responses remain private)? This consideration pertains to existing archival data as well as original data collection.

How much time do I have to conduct the evaluation?

How much money do I have in my budget?

How many evaluation staff do I have to manage the data collection activities?

Can I (and/or members of my evaluation staff) travel on site?

What time of day is best for collecting data? For example, if you plan to conduct

focus groups or interviews, remember that your population may work during the day and need evening times.

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002 Page 16

Types of methods

A number of different methods exist that can be used to collect process information. Consider each of the following, and check those that you think would be helpful in addressing the specific questions in your evaluation. When “see sample” is indicated, refer to the pages that follow this table.

√ Method Description

Activity, participation, or client tracking log

Brief record completed on site at frequent intervals by participant or deliverer. May use form developed by evaluator if none previously exists. Examples: sign in log, daily records of food consumption, medication management.

Case Studies Collection of in-depth information regarding small number of intervention recipients; use multiple methods of data collection.

Ethnographic analysis

Obtain in-depth information regarding the experience of the recipient by partaking in the intervention, attending meetings, and talking with delivery staff and recipients.

Expert judgment Convene a panel of experts or conduct individual interviews to obtain their understanding of and reaction to program delivery.

Focus groups Small group discussion among program delivery staff or recipients. Focus on their thoughts and opinions regarding their experiences with the intervention.

Meeting minutes (see sample)

Qualitative information regarding agendas, tasks assigned, and coordination and implementation of the intervention as recorded on a consistent basis.

Observation (see sample)

Observe actual delivery in vivo or on video, record findings using check sheet or make qualitative observations.

Open-ended interviews – telephone or in person

Evaluator asks open questions (i.e., who, what, when, where, why, how) to delivery staff or recipients. Use interview protocol without preset response options.

Questionnaire Written survey with structured questions. May administer in individual, group, or mail format. May be anonymous or confidential.

Record review

Obtain indicators from intervention records such patient files, time sheets, telephone logs, registration forms, student charts, sales records, or records specific to the service delivery.

Structured interviews – telephone or in person

Interviewer asks direct questions using interview protocol with preset response options.

Evaluation Expert Session

July 16, 2002 Page 17

Sample activity log

This is a common process evaluation methodology because it systematically records exactly what is happening during implementation. You may wish to devise a log such as the one below and alter it to meet your specific needs. Consider computerizing such a log for efficiency. Your program may already have existing logs that you can utilize and adapt for your evaluation purposes.

Site:

Recorder:

Code

Service

Date

Location

# People

# Hours

Notes

Evaluation Expert Session July 16, 2002

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Meeting Minutes

Taking notes at meetings may provide extensive and invaluable process information that can later be organized and structured into a comprehensive report. Minutes may be taken by program staff or by the evaluator if necessary. You may find it helpful to use a structured form, such as the one below that is derived from Evaluating Collaboratives, University of Wisconsin-Cooperative Extension, 1998.

Meeting Place: __________________ Start time: ____________ Date: _____________________________ End time: ____________ Attendance (names): Agenda topic: _________________________________________________ Discussion: _____________________________________________________ Decision Related Tasks Who responsible Deadline 1. 2. 3. Agenda topic: _________________________________________________ Discussion: _____________________________________________________ Decision Related Tasks Who responsible Deadline 1. 2. 3. Sample observation log

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Observation may occur in various methods, but one of the most common is hand-recording specific details during a small time period. The following is several rows from an observation log utilized during an evaluation examining school classrooms.

CLASSROOM OBSERVATIONS (School Environment Scale) Classroom 1: Grade level _________________ (Goal: 30 minutes of observation)

Time began observation: _________Time ended observation:_________ Subjects were taught during observation period: ___________________

PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT

Question

Answer 1. Number of students

2. Number of adults in room: a. Teachers b. Para-pros c. Parents

Total: a. b. c.

3. Desks/Tables a. Number of Desks b. Number of Tables for students’ use c. Any other furniture/include number (Arrangement of desks/tables/other furniture)

a. b. c.

4. Number of computers, type

5. How are computers being used?

6. What is the general classroom setup? (are there walls, windows, mirrors, carpet, rugs, cabinets, curtains, etc.)

7. Other technology (overhead projector, power point, VCR, etc.)

8. Are books and other materials accessible for students?

9. Is there adequate space for whole-class instruction?

12. What type of lighting is used?

13. Are there animals or fish in the room?

14. Is there background music playing?

15. Rate the classroom condition Poor Average Excellent

16. Are rules/discipline procedures posted? If so, where?

17. Is the classroom Noisy or Quiet? Very Quiet Very Noisy

Choosing or designing measurement instruments Consider using a resource panel, advisory panel, or focus group to offer feedback

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regarding your instrument. This group may be composed of any of the people listed below. You may also wish to consult with one or more of these individuals throughout the development of your overall methodology.

Who should be involved in the design of your instrument(s) and/or provide feedback? Program service delivery staff / volunteers Project director Recipients of the program Board of directors Community leader Collaborating organizations Experts on the program or service being evaluated Evaluation experts _________________________ _________________________ _________________________

Conduct a pilot study and administer the instrument to a group of recipients, and then

obtain feedback regarding their experience. This is a critical component of the development of your instruments, as it will help ensure clarity of questions, and reduce the degree of discomfort or burden that questions or processes (e.g., intakes or computerized data entry) elicit.

How can you ensure that you pilot your methods? When will you do it, and whom will you use as participants in the study? Ensure that written materials are at an appropriate reading level for the population.