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Types of Program Evaluation

Confused by all the different terms? 

The good news is you have choices in how you can approach program evaluation.

A list of common evaluation types and a brief description of each are provided below.

Identifying the type of evaluation that best fits your needs will get you started in planning an evaluation that will be the most meaningful to you and your stakeholders. 

Evaluation terms written on a chalkboard with blue background

Context Evaluation (situation): Provides the rationale for determining objectives and setting priorities. It defines the relevant environment, describes the desired and actual conditions pertaining to the environment and identifies unmet needs and unused opportunities.

Cluster Evaluation: A type of evaluation that seeks to determine the impacts of a collection of related projects on society as a whole. Cluster evaluation looks across a group of projects to identify issues and problems that affect an entire area of a program. Designed and used by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to determine the effectiveness of its grants making.

Empowerment Evaluation: Empowerment evaluation is the use of evaluation concepts, techniques and findings to foster improvement and self-determination. In empowerment evaluation, program participants maintain control of the evaluation process; outside evaluators work to build the evaluation capacity of participants and help them use evaluation findings to advocate for their program.

Formative Evaluation: Evaluation conducted during the development and implementation of a program whose primary purpose is providing information for program improvement. Evaluation used to facilitate decisions as the program progresses. Its primary concern is program improvement.

Implementation Evaluation: Evaluation activities that document the evolution of a project and provide indications of what happens within a project and why. Project directors use information to adjust current activities. Implementation evaluation requires close monitoring of program delivery.

Participatory Evaluation: Evaluation in which the perspective of the evaluator carries no more weight than other stakeholders, including participants and the evaluation process and its results are relevant and useful to stakeholders for future actions. Participatory approaches attempt to be practical, useful and empowering to multiple stakeholders and actively engage all stakeholders in the evaluation process.

Performance Evaluation: The evaluation of a particular achievement, in the form of output or process.

Policy Evaluation: Evaluation of policies, plans and proposals for use by policy makers and/or communities trying to effect policy change.

Program Evaluation: The evaluation of a structures intervention to improve the well being of people, groups, organizations and communities.

Self-Evaluation: Self-assessment of program processes and/or outcomes by those conducting or involved in the program.

Stakeholder Evaluation: Evaluation in which stakeholders participate in the design, conduct, and/or interpretation of the evaluation.

Summative Evaluation: Evaluation conducted after completion of a program (or a phase of the program) to determine program effectiveness and worth.

Utilization Focused Evaluation: A type of evaluation that focuses its design and implementation on use by the intended audience. The evaluator, rather than acting as an independent judge, becomes a facilitator of evaluative design-making by intended users.


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