Evaluators work with project management to provide feedback over the course of a project in order to enhance and document its effectiveness.
Front-end evaluation endeavors to discover the relevant characteristics of the audience of a program in order to refine the program for maximum effectiveness. For example, registration surveys for a workshop provide information about participants’ attitudes and knowledge levels in the subject matter. Implemented several weeks before a workshop, data from these surveys can be be analyzed and a report provided to facilitators to allow fine-tuning of the program to address specific characteristics of each group of participants. Front-end evaluation is most effective when plans for a project are in place, and researchers can ask specific questions that correspond with the detailed objectives of the program (Korn, 2003).
Formative evaluation provides information to managers during the life of a program to enable them to improve components while the project is still ongoing (Ledley et al., 2012; Scriven, 1991). Surveys, web analytics, and interviews are a few of the methods commonly used.
A summative evaluation report is provided at the end of the project, covering evaluation findings for the project overall, achievement levels for project goals and objectives, and indicators and recommendations for future programs.
Korn, R., 2003. Making the Most of Front-end Evaluation, Visitor Studies Today, Vol. 6, No. 3, p. 22-24.
Ledley, T.S., Taber, M.R., Lynds, S., Domenico, B, Dahlman, L. 2012. A Model for Enabling an Effective Outcome-Oriented Communication Between the Scientific and Educational Communities, Journal of Geoscience Education, Vol. 60, p. 257-267.
Scriven, M. 1991. Evaluation Thesaurus, Sage Publications, London.