By Randi Nelson Ph.D., JVA Senior Research and Evaluation Associate

“Let’s see, we could do a focus group. I was in a focus group once,” says one staff member. “Wait, I’m not sure I know anything about actually developing one.”

“Well, let’s give a survey then. Those are pretty straightforward to create and send out or we could send it out through email,” says another staff member.

What’s wrong with this conversation? The answer to that depends on when this conversation happens in the course of planning an evaluation.

Choosing how to collect data before you determine your evaluation questions is like creating program activities before you have decided what you want your program to accomplish. Identifying your questions and then figuring out the kind of information you need to answer those questions leads naturally to the best ways to collect data.

People often choose the data collection methods they are most comfortable or familiar with. Unfortunately, what you’re most comfortable or familiar with may not align with what are the most appropriate or efficient methods for a particular evaluation. It’s a common mistake, but one that can be avoided with a better understanding of evaluation planning.

JVA Consulting’s Evaluation Intensive is a two-day, interactive workshop that will guide you through all phases of evaluation planning, including how to select the best data collection methods based on their strengths and weaknesses, and fit, with the evaluation budget, timeline and program context. The Evaluation Intensive will also give you the skills and knowledge you need to develop program logic models and create evaluation and data collection plans.

Knowing the right questions to ask at the right time during your evaluation planning will not only make your evaluation strategies more efficient, it will make them more effective—JVA’s Evaluation Intensive will show you how.

For more information and to register, click here.