The primary challenges which should be addressed by the evaluator to assess the program effectively are the change of program’s aspects, impossibility to develop the evaluation design appropriately, and the variety of strategies to follow during evaluation.
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Challenges of Program Evaluation
Social programs must be effective to guarantee certain results and contribute to the positive changes within the society. To focus on improving existing programs, it is necessary to assess the programs’ elements and functioning. Thus, program evaluation is the complex process of collecting and analyzing the information about the program’s aspects and implementation in order to conclude about its effectiveness (Rossi, 2003, p. 3-4).
The process of evaluating the program can be discussed as rather challenging because it is necessary to assess the program in relation to the demand, design and implementation as well as the program’s effects and efficiency. The results of such evaluation can be used to improve and develop programs effective for resolving a range of social issues. Although the whole process of program evaluation is challenging, there are also primary challenges which should be addressed by an evaluator to complete the goal of the assessment; these challenges are the change of program’s aspects, impossibility to develop the evaluation design appropriately, and the variety of strategies to follow during evaluation.
The evaluator should conclude whether the public program should be improved while analyzing its current effectiveness. Focusing on the followed program’s design and implementation principles, the evaluator develops his or her conclusions. However, the program can change during the course of evaluation leaving the evaluator without the strong evidence to support the preliminary conclusions. The causes of changing the environments are closely associated with the aspects of the social and political development in the community (Langbein, 2012, p. 112; Rossi, 2003, p. 374).
For instance, the results of such a public program as Breaking Barriers: African American Women in Science developed by Science Makers to address the issue of African American women’s discrimination in science can be easily evaluated because the conditions associated with the program were not changed during its implementation (Breaking Barriers, 2012). However, the format of the project can be changed, and the expected results become different, thus, the evaluation process can be discussed as interrupted.
The next important challenge is the impossibility to work out the evaluation design in which scientific and pragmatic approaches should be followed. The evaluator should focus on balancing the strategies used during the evaluation process to provide the objective and scientifically supported results (Stringer, 2013, p. 4-5). The results of the Breaking Barriers program cannot be evaluated immediately because of the project’s character. The program accentuates the inspiration factor to support the inclinations of the African American women who observe the possibilities for their development beyond discrimination. That is why, the evaluator cannot fully focus on pragmatic considerations while evaluating the program.
One more important challenge faced by the evaluator is the necessity to develop the appropriate evaluation design individually, while choosing the most effective methods and techniques. On the one hand, the variety of approaches in the field provides the evaluator with many opportunities to develop the effective evaluation. On the other hand, such diversity of methods can be discussed as the source of the problematic choice for the evaluator (Rossi, 2003, p. 24; Stringer, 2013, p. 65). Referring to the example of the Breaking Barriers program, the evaluator should choose between assessing the program as the separate social project or as the part of the complex program supported by the History Makers.
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Thus, there are many challenges to be addressed by the evaluator which are associated with the character of the evaluated program and the evaluator’s approaches to collecting and analyzing the important data on the programs.
Breaking Barriers: African American Women in Science. (2012). Web.
Langbein, L. I. (2012). Public program evaluation: A statistical guide. USA: M.E. Sharpe.
Rossi, P. (2003). Evaluation: A systematic approach. USA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Stringer, E. T. (2013). Action research. USA: SAGE Publications, Inc.