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103 10¥¥ Key Points to Remember for Useful Evaluation JOHN McE. DAVIS WE CONCLUDE WITH A summary of the main points of the book. Below we list the key takeaways and high-priority practices to keep in mind when conducting evaluation in language programs with the aim of making the project as useful as possible for program stakeholders . The following points can be used as a checklist and referred to throughout the evaluation project to ensure best practices are being observed (referring to more detailed information available in the preceding chapters as needed). Include Stakeholders throughout the Evaluation (Chapter 2) Stakeholders must be involved at all stages of the evaluation project. Involvement of teachers ,students,administrators,alumni,parents,and others during evaluation planning helps to make the evaluation respond to program stakeholders’ needs and interests. Stakeholder involvement during data collection and interpretation helps stakeholders learn about their program and increases their ability to understand and use the evaluation results. Ultimately, stakeholder involvement and participation lead to greater evaluation ownership , which increases the likelihood of evaluation use and usefulness. Undertake a Feasible Evaluation Project (Chapter 2) Evaluation projects that try to collect too much data or take too long to complete run the risk of being conducted superficially or not finishing at all. Rushed or superficial evaluation will lack trustworthiness in the eyes of users and stakeholders. Evaluation that takes too long will fail to provide information in time for decision-making. Evaluation that fails to conclude is by definition nonuseful. During evaluation planning, then, make sure there are sufficient resources, personnel, and time to conduct the evaluation successfully. 104 John McE. Davis Identify the Intended Users of the Evaluation (Chapter 3) Ensure that there are clearly identified users of the evaluation project. Usually these will be decision-makers who have the power (and desire and interest) to take action on the basis of findings. Bring these people into the project early and involve them very closely in project planning. Make sure they understand their role in the evaluation—to be involved in key project decisions. Communicate with users throughout the project on important evaluation activities and milestones. Make sure users approve important project-planning elements, such as decisions about indicators, data-collection tools, strategies for reporting, and so on. Identify Evaluation Uses (Chapter 3) Do not assume what program decision-makers will use the evaluation for. Be explicit about what particular users will do with the evaluation results, and identify evaluation uses in consultation with project users. Head off anything that will threaten evaluation use. Take steps throughout the evaluation project to help ensure decision-makers can use the evaluation findings in the ways they want. Formulate Evaluation Question(s) (Chapter 3) Be explicit about what the evaluation project will investigate. The evaluation must have a clearly identified focus. Make sure the focus is expressed in one or more evaluation questions . Develop the questions in consultation with users and stakeholders (or stakeholder groups). Make sure the questions are clear, specific, answerable, researchable, and politically nonthreatening,and that they address a program feature that stakeholders care about. Identify Indicators before Selecting Data-Collection Tools (Chapter 4) Before deciding how to collect information, decide what type of information needs to be collected. List out the indicators of the relevant program processes that will help answer the evaluation questions. Make sure that users review and approve the indicators. Follow best practices to develop high-quality, useful indicators. Use Indicators to Guide Selection of Evaluation Tools (Chapter 5) Pay special attention to indicators when developing or selecting data-collection tools. Make sure that questionnaires, focus-group and interview protocols, assessments, and other tools capture all project indicators. If a data-collection instrument (or a part of the instrument) fails to collect information on a relevant project indicator, exclude it. Ensure Users Approve Data-Collection Methods (Chapters 5) Make sure that users get the information they want by having them review and approve the proposed data-collection methods. Make sure users are aware of the varieties of information and data that will be collected during the project and presented in the report Key Points to Remember for Useful Evaluation 105 (e.g., comments data or statistics), and check that users regard the information to come from the evaluation as relevant to their evaluation uses and decision-making needs. Ensure Data Collection, Analysis, and Interpretation Lead to Trustworthy Findings (Chapter 9) Evaluation usefulness will depend on users and stakeholders believing the evaluation findings and regarding the...


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