Grants Programs - Evaluating Projects

Purpose of the Resource

This resource is designed to provide guidance and assistance on project and program evaluation to individuals and groups submitting proposals for funding under the ALTC’s Grants and Fellowships Programs. The guidance is in the nature of background information on what project evaluation is and what constitutes good practice in the evaluation of learning and teaching projects.

Assistance is provided in the form of templates for key elements of a project evaluation. The resource also links to resources that help you and/or the evaluation team to carry out the evaluation — from design to data collection, analysis and management to reporting the findings. This resource is designed around the development of an evaluation plan, and it is intended that every project proposal will show evidence of formal evaluation planning that focuses on questions such as those outlined in this resource.

Depending on the expertise and experience of the user, the resource might be used for a variety of purposes, including as a guide for an evaluation plan, a checklist to assess a draft plan, a resource to inform stakeholders of good practice in evaluation, or to review a completed evaluation study and report.

Project Evaluation Defined

Evaluation is a generic process defined at its most general level as the "systematic investigation of the worth or merit of an object" (Program Evaluation Standards, 1994). It can be applied at the level of policy, program and project. At the project level, evaluation can be seen as the processes of

  • negotiating an evaluation plan with stakeholders
  • identifying, collecting and analysing evidence to produce findings
  • disseminating the findings to identified audiences for use in:
    • describing or understanding the project and/or
    • making judgements and/or decisions related to the project.

adapted from Owen, 2006

Evaluation is the key for project improvement as well as assessing worth or merit, but evaluation must be carefully planned for it to be useful. The nature of learning and teaching projects varies considerably which means that no one evaluation methodology or one suite of techniques will 'fit' all projects. It is necessary to match the evaluation approach with the particular project. In addition, the purpose and focus for an evaluation will vary depending on the needs of stakeholders who may include funding agencies, project developers, teaching staff and students. The needs of stakeholders influence the issues to be explored in the evaluation, which in turn influence the evaluation design and methodologies to be used. Finally, projects vary over time and different issues are important at different stages in a project so the focus for evaluation will change. It is therefore important to involve the evaluator as early as possible in the project.

PDF version of this resource

Project Evaluation Resource

 


Developed under contract by Associate Professor Paul Chesterton, Australian Catholic University and Dr Rick Cummings, Murdoch University.