Program Evaluations

Program evaluations are defined as:

Systematic collection of information about the activities, characteristics and outcomes of programs to make judgments about the program (or processes, products, systems, organizations, personnel, or policies), improve effectiveness, and/or inform decisions about future program development.

Below are elements that are common to evaluation and research projects.  This list is not intended to be comprehensive and not all elements are required in order for a project to be considered research or evaluation.  Rather, this list of elements can be used to assist faculty in determining whether an activity involves research requiring IRB review.

Common Elements
Program Evaluation Research
Determines merit, worth, or value Strives to be value-free
Assessment of how well a process, product, or program is working Aims to produce new knowledge within a field (designed to develop or contribute…)
Focus on process, product, or program Focus on population (human subjects)

Designed to improve a process, product, or program and may include:

  • needs assessment
  • process, outcome, or impact evaluation
  • cost-benefit or cost-effectiveness analyses
May be descriptive, relational, or causal

Designed to assess effectiveness or a process, product, or program

Designed to be generalized to a population or to contribute to a field of study at large
Assessment of program or product as it would exist regardless of the evaluation May include an experimental or non-standard intervention
Rarely subject to peer review Frequently submitted for peer review
Activity will rarely alter the timing or frequency of standard procedures Standard procedures or normal activities may be altered by an experimental intervention
Frequently, the entity in which the activity is taking place will also be the funding source May have external funding
Conducted within a setting of changing actors, priorities, resources, and timelines Controlled setting for interaction or natural setting for observations