8. How will the evaluation findings be disseminated?
- Who are the audiences for reports on the evaluation and what are their particular needs and interests?
- What are the functions of reporting?
- What reporting strategies will be used?
- When will reporting take place?
- What kinds of information will be included in evaluation reports?
The potential impact of the results of the evaluation depend in part on the effectiveness of their dissemination. Planning for this involves consideration of a number of issues.
Who are the audiences for reports on the evaluation and what are their particular needs and interests?
The potential audiences comprise all parties whose information needs are specifically addressed in the evaluation, and these may cover the areas of project development, resourcing, implementation or outcomes. Each audience will tend to have specific information needs and interests, as well as some in common with each other.
It is helpful to identify the specific audiences and their range of needs and interests, so that any reporting can be focused and relevant for those audiences. This may well involve different reporting for different audiences, in terms of reporting strategies, timing and information focus.
What are the functions of reporting?
Reporting can perform a number of functions. These include:
- To contribute to a formative evaluation strategy in which preliminary reports during the course of the project serve to inform fine-tuning and modification of the project's processes.
- To assist in engaging stakeholders and in maximising their potential acceptance and use of the final findings by keeping them in touch throughout the project.
- To share key findings and experiences from the project with other institutions and individuals who may be able to learn and benefit from these.
- To demonstrate accountability for the use of resources in the project.
What reporting strategies will be used?
The strategies adopted will depend on the particular reporting functions and the requirements of the funding body. Possibilities include formal written reports, informal reports at forums and other gatherings, regular newsletter progress reports, journal articles and other publications, and oral briefings.
Under the current ALTC Grants and Fellowships Program Guidelines, 'institutions are required to provide regular performance reports (progress reports) and a final written report on the conduct of the project, as specified in the funding agreement'. The evaluation process should provide significant input for these reports.
When will reporting take place?
As indicated above, regular reporting during as well as at the end of the project will enable a range of functions to be addressed. Any reporting during the project may need to be qualified to the extent that the evaluation data collection and analysis processes are incomplete. Progressively, the reporting focus may be able to shift from processes to outcomes.
What kinds of information will be included in evaluation reports?
The current ALTC Grants and Fellowships Program Guidelines list what should be included in the final project report. The list includes items that will be directly informed by the evaluation process.
A formal final evaluation report would generally be expected to include the following kinds of information.
- Background to the project
- Context of the project's operation
- Purpose of the evaluation
- Lists of stakeholders and audiences
- Key evaluation questions
- Information gathering sources and techniques for the evaluation
- Data analysis procedures
- Criteria for judgments
- Findings (summary of information/evidence) and conclusions/judgments
- Supplementary material (appendices)
Consideration could also be given to including visual material and direct quotes from participants, to the extent that these will enliven the report and help to bring the reader more directly into the evaluation and its findings.
The ALTC final report template indicates that an independent evaluation report be included as an attachment to the final project report, for project grants in excess of $120,000 (http://www.altc.edu.au/managing-your-project). This is an efficient strategy and allows readers to see the two documents in context. However, the evaluation report remains the responsibility of the evaluation consultant and should be clearly attributed as so. Varied examples of evaluation reports of fellowships and projects are available to peruse at: