With Halloween approaching, we are writing about scary things for Corona’s blog. This got thinking about some of the scary things that we help to make less scary. Think of us as the people who check under the bed for monsters, turn on lights in dark corners, bring our proton packs and capture the ectoplasmic entities … wait, that last one’s the Ghostbusters. But you get the idea.
As an evaluator I find that evaluators often have a scary reputation. There is a great fear that evaluators will conclude your programs aren’t working and that will be the end of funding and the death of your programs. In reality, a good evaluator can be an asset to your programs (a fear-buster, if you will) in a number of ways:
- Direction out of the darkness. Things go wrong … that’s life. Evaluation can help figure out why and provide guidance on turning it around before it’s too late. Maybe implementation wasn’t consistent, maybe some outcome measures were misunderstood by participants (see below), maybe there’s a missing step in getting from A to B. Evaluators have a framework for systematically assessing how everything is working and pinpointing problems quickly and efficiently so you can address them and move forward.
- Banisher of bad measures. A good evaluator will make sure you have measures of immediate, achievable goals (as well as measures of the loftier impacts you hope to bring about down the road), and that your measures are measuring what you want (e.g., questions that are not confusing for participants or being misunderstood and answered as the opposite of what was intended).
- Conqueror of math. Some people (like us) love the logic and math and analysis of it all. Others, not so much. If you’re one of the math lovers, it’s nice to have an evaluation partner to get excited about the numbers with you, handle the legwork for calculating new things you’ve dreamed up, and generally provide an extra set of hands for you. If you’re not so into math, it’s nice to be able to pass that piece off to an evaluator who can roll everything up, explain it in plain language, and help craft those grant application pieces and reports to funders that you dread. In either case, having some extra help from good, smart people who are engaged in your work is never a bad thing, right?
This fall, don’t let the scary things get in your way. Call in some support.