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
Assessment of how well a process, product, or program is working in a specific context Aims to produce new knowledge to contribute to a  broader societal endeavor
Focus on process, product, or program Focus on population (human subjects)

Designed to improve a process, product, or program via:

  • needs assessment
  • process, outcome, or impact evaluation
  • cost-benefit or cost-effectiveness analyses
Same as at left, but adds procedures, component(s) or analyses aimed to generalize (e.g. combining data with other projects, randomization, expanded sites, literature review)
Assessment of program or product as it would exist regardless of the evaluation May include an experimental or non-standard intervention
If publication results have no impact on how the project is designed or analyzed The desire to disseminate impacts the choice of procedures or analyses, in order to strengthen generalizability
Activity will rarely alter the timing or frequency of standard procedures Standard procedures or normal activities may be altered by an experimental intervention
Directed and usually funded by the entity doing the program May have external funding (note: some external funding is explicitly limited to non-research projects, which will in turn place limitations on scope of project and publications)