1.2 Approaches to Evaluation

Approaches to evaluation refer to the different ways in which you can carry out the tasks associated with your evaluation work. Your approach may affect how you collect data or how you involve students in planning or sharing your evaluation. There are multiple approaches but a few select ones are highlighted here that can be useful to keep in mind as you map your evaluation journey.

While some of these approaches can be resource heavy or require specific expertise to implement there maybe ways of adopting some aspects of these approaches in your activities. As you review the planning, conducting and sharing sections of the toolkit, it might be helpful to revisit this section to consider how you may tailor some of your evaluation activities to reflect any approaches that you feel may work for your office, centre or student population.

Developmental Evaluation

Developmental evaluation is an approach that collects and analyzes real-time data (data as it happens) and feedback to inform how programs and services can adapt in changing environments.

Using data collection methods (section 2.2d) the information gathered is used to determine how your work is affecting the population and/or system that it is operating within and how you can remain responsive in the design, development and implementation of your ongoing work.

This approach is particularly useful in assessing the effectiveness of a service that is implemented for the first time, is operating in uncertain environments or is by nature highly organic.

Empowerment Evaluation

Empowerment evaluation aims to equip people with the tools and/or resources with which they may monitor their own changes or performance. With a focus on self-improvement and self-determination, evaluation techniques and findings are used to foster capacity among those most affected by your program or service.

Participatory Evaluation

Participatory evaluation aims to meaningfully engage the people who are most affected by the program or service you wish to evaluate. This can include student leaders, staff and service partners but most importantly, the student population affected by mental health and addiction.

By involving student voice in the evaluation process, you are working towards building a more inclusive evaluation plan. Much of the evaluation work conducted in the student health and social sectors incorporate some form of a participatory approach in varying degrees. From participation in an advisory capacity to peer facilitation or evaluation champions, the options for participation are plentiful.

Culturally Relevant Evaluations (i.e. Indigenous Frameworks)

Culturally relevant evaluations and specifically ones grounded in indigenous knowledge have been developed in recognition of how some voices have traditionally been excluded from evaluation practice. Indigenous evaluation frameworks aim to build evaluations that are inclusive of how Indigenous communities learn and share knowledge through practices such as sharing circles and elder insights.

Arts-based Evaluations (ABE)

Arts-Based Evaluation (ABE) can offer a powerful and creative framework within which to engage diverse students in your evaluation. ABE uses the arts was a way for people to share their experience of a program or service. Arts based methods of collecting data can include photography, storytelling or sketching.

These creative modes of sharing allow the student to tell the story of their experience in their own way and can enhance your learning of the holistic effects of your work on student lives.

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