Choosing the right evaluation methods

Shona Wells, Training Officer at Evaluation Support Scotland talks about what to consider in order to choose the best evaluation method to use for measuring your indicators.

Choosing the right evaluation method 

Once you’ve set indicators for each of your outcomes, you’ll begin to see that your evidence might come from different sources – for example, if one indicator you wanted to measure was how stressed someone feels, you would need to ask them direct – meaning that the source of that evidence is the service user themselves. On the other hand, something like their ability to make eye contact is an indicator you might simply observe

Thinking about what the sources of your indicators are will help you to decide on the best ways to capture evidence, but there are some other factors to take in to account as well. 

When choosing the best methods or tools to use for measuring your indicators, you should consider what the characteristics or abilities of your service users are. For example, if literacy is an issue, a wordy questionnaire might not be the most suitable tool – you might instead want to choose a method with few or no words, or try to illustrate concepts with images instead. You might also want to build your methods in to the activities you’re delivering, so that evaluation is not a big, extra task – for example, if you engage young people in playing football, you could ask them to kick the ball in to one goal if they agree with the statement and the other goal if they disagree. 

So, in order to choose the most appropriate evidence-collection methods, some key things to think about are: 

– what opportunities you’ll have to measure your indicators, based on what their sources are, 

– what people will find easiest to engage with, based on their characteristics or abilities, and 

– how you can build evaluation into your activities, so that it’s part of your day-to-day work