On Tuesday 28th January we had another session with Angela Conlan, this time about evaluations and their importance. They are such a good way of assessing what improvements can be made, what successes were achieved, how the project and partners can develop, and are excellent ways of showing people how arts projects are good ways of learning and the benefits of funding.
Angela gave us a really easy, 5 point framework for evaluations, deconstructing each part and having us apply these principles to hypothetical projects. The plan worked as follows:
- Collecting Evidence
- Assembling and Interpreting
- Reflecting and Moving Forward
- Reporting and Sharing
Planning is such an essential step as it means that the ideas and preparations are already in place further down the line. It’s the time to work out the details of how to cost out time and resources, who has responsibility for the evaluation, and how and when you collect and review the project.
We also discussed measures of success. Working from the aims to pinpoint objectives, we can then create the measures of success from which you can show outcomes, whether positive or negative. At this point we used projects we’d previously come up as examples to figure out for ourselves what we consider measures of success.
When considering methods of collection we looked at how they will meet requirements, whether they will be flexible enough to show unexpected results and whether collection can take place without disruption. Angela also pointed out that we needed to take into account safe-guarding issues and data protection. These are elements that I’ve never had to consider before, but that’s all part of this journey we’re on, filling in the gaps in our knowledge and prompting further thought.
The second point of this was looking at different types of evidence, ie qualitative and quantitative. The easiest way of explaining this is as follows.
Qualitative: thoughts, opinions and ideas showing different perspectives, such as case studies.
Assembling and Interpreting
Here we looked back at the measures of success from earlier in the session and used them as a basis for interpretation. From this you could establish that everyone involved in projects is represented, look at unexpected outcomes, and find evidence of change, progress and room for development.
Reflecting and Moving Forward
Put simply, you can’t move forward effectively without looking back.
Looking at the key findings, another great acronym (and we do love our acronyms) came in the form of SWOT analysis.
This made us look at potential areas for improvement, how to dissect information and what to take from it. From that point on you can assess what changes could be made or decide on what action should be taken.
Reporting and Sharing
This was the final point in the plan. Considering all the information, we discussed who you would share your findings with, how, what and why you would be telling them that information and the impact that could have.
I found this session really informative as I’ve never had to do an evaluation in such detail before. By providing us with such a simple framework I feel Angela has enabled us to breakdown the process into manageable segments. I definitely feel more confident about performing and preparing for evaluations and hope to take this information forward with me.