Evaluation: good practice guidelines for project managers
This guide is designed for those who lead projects intended to engage general audiences in science, social science, engineering and technology and the social, ethical and political issues that new research in these areas raises. If you run, or oversee, lots of projects and report on them as a group, then you should also look at the companion publication to this guide designed for programme managers.
Evaluation techniques are based on social and market research methods, so even though some material will be familiar to some readers, the questions posed and the thought processes suggested ought to be relevant to all project managers. This guide is intended to help project managers evaluate individual projects, regardless of their experience of evaluation.
The evaluation approaches covered in this guide are suitable for a range of projects including:
- teachers’ packs
- hands-on events
- open days
and all the other ingenious ways that are being used to engage people in science.
Evaluation strategies should be integral to the project design process and it might be important to talk to potential funders about evaluation when preparing grant applications.
The guide has five main sections and a series of annexes.
Section 2 looks at building an evaluation strategy and also provides an overview of evaluation – what it’s about, what it can do, what it can’t do and how you should report your findings. It should also help you in making an application for funding.
Section 3 focuses on data collection. This section describes the different techniques, all of which stem from market and social research. It explains what different techniques can do and how you can make them work together.
Section 4 gives guidance on how to analyse the data you’ve collected.
Section 5 looks at how to draft your report.
Annex 1 provides some detailed advice on constructing questionnaires and phrasing questions.
Annex 2 provides an overview of what techniques to use depending on the information you want.
Annex 3 is a glossary of terms.
Annex 4 suggests some further reading.
There is no magic formula for evaluation. In order to construct an evaluation strategy, you need to think about your objectives, the data you can collect and the reports you have to make. Done well, constructing an evaluation strategy is every bit as satisfying as designing the project of which it is a part.
The full guide is available in hard copy from Research Councils UK and downloadable from their website: www.rcuk.ac.uk
Also see the guide for developing dialogue activity