We are Emily Hagstrom and Caroline Taggart, and we are evaluators at Ciurczak & Company, Inc., a private evaluation firm in Buffalo, NY. We evaluate many after-school and other programs. As a component of our evaluations, we conduct multiple site visits each year. These site visits are an important tool for evaluation that leads to program improvement. We would like to share some of the uses and benefits of site visits that we have discovered through our experience, which apply to many types of programs you may evaluate.
Hot tip! Site visits can be used for the following purposes:
- Ensuring proper implementation of the program
- Making suggestions for program improvement
- Observing participant engagement and interaction with peers and staff
- Monitoring quality of staff
- Putting real faces and context to the data.
Cool Trick: Conduct site visits at different times of the year to allow for the natural flow of change.
Cool Trick: Make unannounced site visits whenever possible to avoid “staged performances”.
Cool Trick: Schedule sit down meetings with program directors and staff to discuss the observation and review recommendations.
Rad Resource: Here is an example of a form that can be used when conducting a site visit of an after-school program: http://www.afterschoolresources.org/directory/research_evaluation/instruments/out_of_school_time_ost_observation_instrument.html
We hope to see you all this November at Evaluation 2010 in San Antonio, where we will be presenting even more on this topic!
This contribution is from the aea365 Tip-a-Day Alerts, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to learn more from Emily and Caroline? They’ll be presenting as part of the Evaluation 2010 Conference Program, November 10-13 in San Antonio, Texas.