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Evaluation Myths & Benefits

“Evaluation” is often considered a dirty word amongst practitioners. Evaluation can be somewhat intimidating and threatening for those unfamiliar with its usefulness.

Because of the negative stigma attached to evaluation, we feel it imperative to debunk some of the common myths associated with program evaluation. Demystifying these erroneous assumptions will help you develop a more positive mindset and attitude about program evaluation.

Below is a list of myths about evaluation followed by a list of the benefits evaluation can offer.

Evaluation Myths

There are three common evaluation-related myths that concern many college and university outreach professionals. After each myth is a statement in italics that provides an answer to expose the myth and establish a more informed mindset about evaluations:

  • Myth #1: Evaluation unnecessarily diverts resources and services from my students.
    • Evaluation should be considered an investment in your program and students. The benefits of a properly conducted evaluation can have an invaluable effect on services provided to students. Although evaluation does utilize time and resources, there are a wide range of inexpensive options at your disposal.
  • Myth #2: Evaluation automatically determines whether or not my program will be eliminated.
    • Evaluation is for program improvement not elimination. A common misconception is that your evaluation needs to illustrate no need for improvement when, in fact, each program has room for improvement. Ongoing feedback to analyze, understand, and refine your program is essential.
  • Myth #3: Evaluation is too complicated.
    • Evaluation can be very easy, especially after a plan is developed. The idea of evaluation is often rejected because outreach program personnel do not know how to evaluate their services or who to ask for help. Although some aspects are complex, the evaluation process is a practice in which most program staff have already engaged in an informal, continual basis.

Evaluation Benefits

  • Produces programmatic self-understanding and self-accountability
  • Allows you to demonstrate program outcomes to grant providers and other constituents
  • Substantiates requests for increased funding by providing evidence of effectiveness
  • Identifies and leverages program strengths
  • Identifies and modifies ineffective practices
  • Provides documentation for performance/funding reports
  • Creates a foundation for strategic planning
  • Produces credibility and visibility