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NEC Spotlight June 18th, 2024
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One Step at a Time: Designing Effective Evaluation Plans

Posted by on January 29th, 2024 Posted in: Blog, Thought Leadership


A well-crafted evaluation plan is intended to serve as a go-to resource — a roadmap — throughout the evaluation process. Presenting during the 2024 NNLM Showcase, National Evaluation Center (NEC) Executive Director Verónica Hoyo and NEC Associate Director Keith Herzog discussed approaches to developing effective evaluation plans.

In the presentation, they provided a detailed description of the essential elements of feasible and actionable evaluation plans. They discussed the important questions to ask, the minimally necessary steps that should be taken, and the key factors to consider when crafting solid evaluation plans.

Herzog said, “As a roadmap, it’s important to emphasize that dedicating time to developing a complete evaluation plan isn’t just useful when applying for funding, it also helps you think through each step in the evaluation process in order to anticipate challenges and ensure a seamless workflow.”

In other words, a well-crafted evaluation plan will pay dividends throughout your evaluation efforts — and is worth the time needed to develop a solid one.

While Hoyo outlined what evaluation is and why it matters, Herzog added what he and Hoyo consider essential components of an evaluation plan.

They recommended applying an evaluation mindset when drafting an evaluation plan. This mindset — a set of prompting questions to guide one’s approach to evaluation — included considering the what (planning stage), so what (analysis stage), and now what (decision making stage) of the evaluation paradigm.

“Evaluation is the means through which we define an action, program, initiative, or intervention’s merit, and its purpose is to focus our understanding of all aspects of it, from its design to its implementation, to its final results,” Hoyo said. “Evaluation wants to understand how effective, how efficient, and how impactful and sustainable a program, action, or activity is.”

Because evaluation allows us to learn, the process is at its best when it is inclusive and collaborative, bringing multiple perspectives to the evaluation table.

“While we want people to understand the importance of evaluation, it’s also critical to know that you don’t need to recreate the wheel; instead, leverage available, standardized tools and questions,” Herzog said. “And always remember to value your respondents’ time when considering what to include in a survey. You need to ask if each question is mission critical.”

The presentation concluded with a list of valuable resources, before engaging in a question-and-answer session.

If you would like to learn more about this session, please consult the following resources:

Recommended resources:

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This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.

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