Evaluation Terms: A Glossary

The terms here will help increase your general understanding of evaluation as well as search and navigate this site. The terms selected include the types and approaches to evaluation and standard research concepts.

The entire group of people you seek to study and learn about in your evaluation, such as targeted community segments, audiences, youth voters, community leaders, artists participating in your civic program, a cultural group in the community, members, etc.
(Same as formative and implementation evaluation) — Focuses on the way a program is working in order to understand the strengths and weaknesses of its design and implementation. It asks and answers the question, “What is happening and why?” It looks at how a product is produced rather than the product itself. It focuses on indicators that are process or activity related, such as how many activities were undertaken, the effectiveness of choices made in program design, such as choice of a particular art form as a catalyst for dialogue. Examples might include evaluation of: strategies used to recruit participation of a desired group; workings of a partnership; the reach of a particular informative campaign. (From Suzanne Callahan’s Singing Our Praises)
Efforts to systematically assess the quality of a program’s performance and the outcomes and impacts of programs.
A sample in which people are intentionally selected because they have a distinct set of characteristics that are of interest to the researcher.
The approach to collecting information that captures experience, meaning, and stories that illuminate impact. Typical methods used to conduct qualitative research include, for example: in-depth, open-ended interviews and focus groups, direct observation, open-ended responses, journals, letters from program participants, notes, and program records. It is important to note that qualitative design can employ either qualitative or quantitative data.
The approach to collecting information that expresses change in numerical terms. Typical methods include, for example: close-ended questionnaires, attendance information, and census/population data. It is important to note that quantitative design can employ either qualitative or quantitative data
A process that gives each person in the population an equal chance of being included in the sample. This is the most common and statistically valid method of selecting participants, especially for quantitative studies.
A sample that is representative of the key characteristics of the population from which it is drawn. Such characteristics vary according to the study and may include demographics such as age, race, and gender, or other areas such as artistic discipline or degree of civic involvement.
Systematically and empirically gathering information about a topic of interest.
The percentage of those who provide information on a survey, which is calculated by dividing those who did respond by the total number of surveys distributed. The response rate is one factor that determines the confidence of drawing conclusions from data.