“Did it work?” looks like a simple question to answer but when dealing with people and change there are no easy answers. In fact, there is usually more than one answer, and it takes a lot of work to unearth them!
Evaluating the overall results of your change effort starts with digging deep to identify and document what each stakeholder group finds important and learn their definition of success. For those of us in higher education success can be defined as increased enrollment, student learning, decreased student debt, program sustainability, fiscal viability, community engagement, graduation rate, student completion, faculty engagement, student engagement, and on and on.
Recently I discovered the work of an international group of experts in the field of evaluation. They can help you focus your evaluation and determine what is most important to all of your stakeholders. Managing the evaluation process provides a set of resources and tools you can use to involve and engage your stakeholders during your evaluation planning, implementation and communication. Stakeholder engagement helps you:
- provide credible and useful evaluation information
- collect high quality data
- understand and interpret evaluation data
- build knowledge about the value of evaluation
- facilitate the use and dissemination of your results
You can find more information on their website, Better Evaluation.
Engaging your stakeholders in your evaluation process clarifies what will count as success and helps you answer each stakeholder when they ask you, “did it work?”