Evaluating Development Cooperation/Standard Evaluation Methods/Data Collection Methods

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Data collection methods

How do we Evaluate Programmes? Standard Evaluation methods

A good project / programme design will consider how to monitor and evaluate during and after the implementation phase (in itinere and ex post). It will therefore decide what are the indicators and what are the sources of information for judging the efficiency, the effectiveness and the impact.

Information sources may be independent from the programme/project management team and the organization. Others will be the internal evaluation tasks that will collect data concerning processes and outcomes.

Programme/project designers will consider the standard methods of collecting and analyzing data and will adopt those that are seen as most suitable. Eventually a new approach may be proposed. After deciding on the method there will be an illustration of the evaluation activity within the program/project, including the indications regarding how to use the monitoring/evaluation results for improved programme/project management, for organizational development and for employee empowerment and leaning. (see evaluation reporting methods; and methods for generating acceptance for the evaluation reports).

The approach and methods used in an data collection method will be determined by the reasons for which it is being undertaken, who is taking responsibility and who needs to be involved.

For an efficient management of evaluation action it is important to avoid collecting data for purely reporting purposes: it is important to focus those elements on the bases of which one can make managerial decisions and/or learn if the previous decisions were appropriate.

It is very important to link evaluation of managerial processes with the evaluation of the programme/project outcomes. For a manager to learn means to understand the relationship between processes and outcomes since s/he can achieve outcomes only by improving the management of processes. Although there are different indicators and different information sources for monitoring and evaluating processes (efficiency, accountability and transparency , etc.) and outcomes (effectiveness, sustainability, impact), real understanding can be done only integrating the two dimension in a unitary vision of necessary relationship amongst resources, activities, results, objectives and impacts. The central element is always the empowerment of the human resources to do actions in a better way so as to achieve better results and obtain better outcomes.

Whatever be the budget for data collection one should never go into a data collection exercise that cannot lead to improved learning and improved decision making. So it is wrong to collect more information than the capacity or the scope to analyse, organise and utilize.

In all the method of data collection one should consider the principles of sampling.

Standard collecting methods include:

  • surveys -
  • questioning - through questionnaires; interviews,
  • community meetings
  • key Informant Interviews
  • direct observation
  • focus groups.
  • collection of stories according the MSC method
  • semi-structured dialogue