Friday, 20 January 2012

Which evaluation model to use?

Program to be evaluated Description and evaluation of a prenatal exercise program for urban Aboriginal women. 
I believe that an outcomes- based evaluation would be a good choice to evaluate the prenatal exercise program for Aboriginal women in Saskatoon.  Outcomes- based evaluation looks at the benefits of a program to clients.  It would be beneficial to assess how program participants’ knowledge of GDM (gestational diabetes) and the importance of prenatal care were improved through participation in the program.
An outcomes-based evaluation focuses on inputs (materials and resources), activities (the processes of the program),outputs (units of service), and outcomes, including outcome targets and indicators.  An outcomes-based evaluation requires a reflection on what an organization wants to achieve with a program, not just a look at how a program worked (activities) and how many were served (outputs).  In this case, an evaluation of the prenatal exercise program for Aboriginal women in Saskatoon, should look at how the knowledge and attitudes of the participants were affected, not just how many women participated in the exercise program. 
Outcomes based evaluation encourages the creation of a logic model to clarify and define inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes.  From the logic model, outcomes can become apparent.  Asking the questions “why are we doing these activities and imputing staff and resources?” can point to the real outcomes we are looking to achieve with the program.  In the case of the prenatal exercise program for Aboriginal women in Saskatoon, having the women participate in physical activity for a period of time is beneficial in itself, but what are the real desired outcomes of the program?  Does the program aim to help Aboriginal women gain knowledge on how to reduce their chances of gestational diabetes?  Does it aim to change the women’s attitudes to continue to participate in physical activity on their own?  The use of an outcomes-based evaluation would encourage the stakeholders to identify their real goals for this health promotion program.  It would also assist in the definition of outcome targets (where they want to be) and indicators (how do we know that we are there).   

Klomp, J., Dyck, R., and Sheppard, S. (2003). Description and evaluation of a prenatal exercise program for urban Aboriginal women.  Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 27: 231-238

Just a note—the idea of Outcomes based evaluation was interesting to me.  I had always thought that programs were simply evaluated based on outputs, like the number of people served. I had never thought about the outcomes piece of it.  I am involved in some homelessness initiatives that promote sustained housing for clients, and I realize that the result of an evaluation based on outputs—clients housed, and an outcomes-based evaluation, looking at how the clients sustained housing as a result of the program, would be very different.   It changes how I look at the evaluations I have seen.  I learned something!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Theresa. I am always happy to hear that people are actually learning something in this course. I think that you present and explain the model very well. Your submission demonstrates the potential impact on not only the program but the stakeholders as well. I can see you working with the groups encouraging them to examine all aspects of their practice and find consensus. I am curious to know how you would gather and report data using the proposed model. Well done.