A lot of valuable lessons and goodwill can be gained from evaluating your events and reviewing progress as a group. This section contains some different evaluation methods. Use with basic group techniques, which has a worksheet with step-by-step guidance on how to design your evaluation.
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Evaluating your event can be as simple as asking each other, ‘how did we go?’ Or it may be a more thorough exercise checking with all participants on their views.
Your purpose – what to evaluate
Decide what it is that’s important to evaluate. It might just be finding out what worked and what didn’t, so you can improve things for next time. It might be more specific, such as how well organised you were, whether you met the needs of the people who came, whether you met the expectations of sponsors, or whether participants learned something.
Your approach – how to evaluate
Unless you have a well-resourced group and someone willing to do some follow-up, it’s useful to evaluate on the day.
For a meeting or seminar, you might allow time at the end of the day for verbal feedback, either a round or an open discussion (remember to record the points raised). Ask for positive thoughts about the day as well as suggested improvements. Alternatively, allow time to hand out a feedback sheet for people to fill in on the spot.
For a field day or event where people leave at different times, you can hand out a short survey to people as they arrive and request they fill it in before leaving. Provide a box at the site exit, or at the front of the bus, and have someone on hand to remind people as they leave. Don’t expect people to mail a form back to you.
If you run out of time to undertake a thorough evaluation, a simple technique is to draw a horizontal line on a large sheet of newsprint with a happy face at one end and a sad face at the other. Participants mark along the line how they rate the event and write any comments on sticky notes underneath.
Another option is to phone a sample of participants about a week after the event.
Your questions – how to get the information you want
Design (and test) questions that will suit your evaluation purpose. You may want a mix of quantitative responses (things you can count) as well as qualitative (descriptive) information.
To get quantitative responses, ask people yes/no questions or get them to rank on a scale of 1–5. These can help you prove to sponsors or managers that your objectives were met. For qualitative responses, ask open questions (ones that cannot be answered with a yes or a no). These will give you ideas for improving things.
Example of questions for a simple feedback sheet Evaluation purpose: to identify what worked and didn’t work for people at a seminar.
- The purpose of today was xyz. Overall, how well was this met?
- (Rank on scale 5= very well, 1= not at all)
- Which session was the most useful? Why?
- Which session was the least useful? Why?
- What improvements can you suggest for future seminars?
If you require more detail, other questions could relate to such things as:
- What did participants gain from being involved?
- What were some of the highlights for them?
- What further information do they require?
The ‘H form’ is a more structured feedback sheet, which allows people to work together to evaluate an event. This technique can be used by a small group (4–8 people) – for example, the event organisers. If you have large numbers, break into two or more groups.
- Using a whiteboard or flipchart draw some goal posts. Write 0 at one end of the cross- bar and 10 at the other end (see diagram A below).
- Get each person to place a mark on the crossbar to indicate where they would rate the event between 0 and 10.
- Give each person three sticky notes to write down three things they regard as positive about the event. Stick these on the right-hand side of the goal post.
- Using three more sticky notes (a different colour provides a visual contrast), ask each person to write down a maximum of three negatives associated with the event. Stick these on the left-hand side of the goal posts.
- Taking into account the positive and negative points, assign a group mark as to how you would rate the event. It is possible for the group mark to vary considerably from first round marks -– it’s okay to alter your opinion! Write this number above the crossbar.
- Below the crossbar, list the collective ideas from the group about how to improve future events (see diagram B).
In addition to evaluating specific events, a periodic review of your overall progress as a group can produce many helpful insights and generate a sense of achievement. The following technique may be useful.
Taking stock of the past and charting the future
This technique uses a timeline as a focal point for a group reviewing its achievements to date and looking at ‘where to from here’.
Time: 2 hours.
Materials: A1 flipchart sheets, sellotape, Blu-tack, black, red and blue marker pens, large wall to pin sheets to, or a series of oblong tables that can be joined end to end.
Preparation: Join four A1 sheets horizontally end to end along the wall or table. Draw a line horizontally down the middle of the joined sheets. Mark the date the group began near the left hand end and the current date near the right hand end. Leave enough space for items that happened before the group started or for items in the future.
Set up a table to the side with any relevant information about the group’s work – displays, past meeting minutes, the current or past action plans, photos, media clippings etc.
Follow the workshop process below.
Recap on past activities (30 minutes)
- The facilitator asks questions to help the group identify its past actions. Remind people to use the information on display as required.
- Everyone takes a black felt pen and writes past actions on the timeline at the appropriate place. Alternatively, people work in pairs, or a couple of people write as instructed by others.
Attend to feelings (30 minutes)
- The facilitator asks questions that help people elicit feelings arising from the experience – highlights, low points, frustrations, satisfaction, inspiration.
- People use a red pen to circle high points and a blue pen for low points.
Re-evaluate the experience (30 minutes)
- The facilitator asks the group questions that will uncover new or improved skills, understanding and knowledge as a result of what the group has done – for example, ‘What did the highlights teach us about working together as a group? What did the low points teach us?’
- Record key points on flipchart paper below the timeline, using a symbol to link points to the timeline where appropriate.
Identify possible actions (30 minutes)
- The facilitator asks the group questions to identify additional areas for work or examination – ‘What does our review suggest we should do differently as a group?’’
- The facilitator asks the group questions to identify how the skills or knowledge gained will be applied – ‘What does our review suggest are the next steps for our group/project?’
- The facilitator asks the group questions to clarify what other resources are needed – ‘What support might we need to do this?’
- Record key points on the flipchart paper, using a symbol to link points to the timeline where appropriate.