You are probably wondering how I managed to introduce biscuits into a conversation about evaluation. It's a skill trust me.
So think of a biscuit, how would you compare it to any other biscuit? How would you know that somebody else's idea of a biscuit was the same as your own ? Lets take the controversial jaffa cake for instance. A cake masquerading as a biscuit or vice versa?
Then what if you rated it? How about if you scored a biscuit based on dunkability and somebody else scored it based on how many you get in a packet ? Can you compare? Or what if the other person doesn't care about dunkability at the end of the day?
It's all about shared term of reference and relevancy... and planning of course... every successful evaluation needs a plan.
Moving away from biscuits and becoming more serious, if you measure a project that is about empowering young people then it is important to understand what that looks like. Do we all have the same views on what empowerment is and what it means to us?
There are two types of data we generally collect quantitative (the numbers) and qualitative (the quality). Numbers are numbers, we can count the people who take part, the number of sessions that they attend but we can't tell the quality of experience or the personal change that occurs from those numbers and so we need to collect evidence of impact in other ways.
There are many ways to collect data but without a point of reference and ways of describing what success looks like then it is hard to compare, be relevant and remain objective.
The best approach is to consider how you use both types of data and to plan how you will do this by identifying your outputs (what you will produce) and your outcomes (what will change as a result)
NEXT TIME: Logic models and keeping track of your evaluation and monitoring