Monday, February 1, 2016

Why are these terms important in evaluation? And what distinguishes them from each other?

It's all about terminology. Why are these terms important in evaluation? And what distinguishes them from each other?
a) Needs Assessment
b) Monitoring
c) Outcome Studies
d) Testing
e) Measurement
f) Assessment

The terms assessment, monitoring, outcome studies, testing, measurement, and assessment all define methods to measure criteria.
Defining criteria is a key component of any evaluation. The measurements and methods used to develop an evaluation closely relate to research. Research and evaluation methodology may also differ in critical ways like how an evaluator or researcher determines if their outcome is successful, who determines criteria, and which criteria are targeted. 
The definitions of terms may also be critical to an evaluation. Evaluations results must include defensible outcomes. Therefor, the stakeholders must be able to agree to the definitions of terms. If a term can be defined in multiple ways, it may be advisable to identify which definition the evaluator(s) would like to use and have a solid understanding of what connotations those terms may have.
According to Rutgers, term a is defined as, "The first step in developing an Extension program is conducting a needs assessment. This systematic approach seeks information from clientele or secondary sources as to a gap or need – a societal, personal, economic, or environmental issue, for instance, that must be addressed and that requires some planned actions to have a positive impact on improving or changing the identified situation. The following resources provide information on conducting needs assessments."
I would be interested to see other sources for these methods from classmates and feedback on their definitions.
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  1. I only broadly answered the first question and failed to bring up the second, "what distinguishes these terms from one another?"

    To do that, I think we need to individually define what each term can mean. I know, I can look up the dictionary terms, or what various evaluators have described them as but in different instances I may find varying answers. I'd like to keep this discussion moving though, so here are the basic dictionary definitions and we can go from there.

    a) Needs Assessment - A needs assessment is a systematic process for determining and addressing needs, or "gaps" between current conditions and desired conditions or "wants". The discrepancy between the current condition and wanted condition must be measured to appropriately identify theneed. -- Wikipedia
    b) Monitoring - observe and check the progress or quality of (something) over a period of time; keep under systematic review. "equipment was installed to monitor air quality"

    synonyms: observe, watch, track, keep an eye on, keep under observation, keep watch on, keep under surveillance, surveil, record, note, oversee; informalkeep tabs on
    "his movements were closely monitored"
    maintain regular surveillance over.
    "it was easy for the enemy to monitor his movements"
    listen to and report on (a foreign radio broadcast or a telephone conversation). -- Google

    c) Outcome Studies - Outcomes research is a public health research, which studies the end results of the structure and processes of health care system on the health, and well-being of patients and populations.. -- Wikipedia
    d) Testing - Test and Evaluation. Share. Definition: Test& Evaluation (T&E) is the process by which a system or components are compared against requirements and specifications throughtesting. The results are evaluated to assess progress of design, performance, supportability, etc. - Mitre
    e) Measurement - the action of measuring something. "accurate measurement is essential"

    synonyms: quantification, computation, calculation, mensuration; More
    the size, length, or amount of something, as established by measuring.
    "his inseam measurement"
    synonyms: size, dimension, proportions, magnitude, amplitude; More
    a unit or system of measuring.
    "a hand is a measurement used for measuring horses"
    -- Google
    f) Assessment - the evaluation or estimation of the nature, quality, or ability of someone or something. "the assessment of educational needs"

    synonyms: evaluation, judgment, rating, estimation, appraisal, analysis, opinion More
    -- Google

  2. What kinds of data an evaluator may gather?

    If I where to simply answer this, I would guess anything with qualitative and quantitative findings. Something that has measurable criteria and defensible metrics. I'm sure this could be defined more specifically though.

    What kind of conclusions he or she may arrive?

    Defensible conclusions, which requires criteria that may be definitive. Basically any conclusion specific to a question or purpose required by stakeholders but not too broad to be defined as research.

    Hoping someone else jumps in here. I'm basing this off the reading mostly and trying to avoid things I think are research since we've already concluded those are very different things.


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