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Ira Mahoud on Basic Evaluation Guides

Cheers! I am Ira Mahoud, a student, researcher, part-time evaluator, and occasional jazz musician. I have been on the lookout for basic guides to conducting evaluation – something shorter than a textbook but longer than an overview, that I could share with others who wanted to know the basics.

Rad Resources: Here are five guides that I found.

  • The Evaluation Cookbook: from the Learning Technology Dissemination Initiative at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, it is “A practical guide to evaluation methods for lecturers.” The focus is on recipes for evaluating classroom content for achieving learning objectives.
  • Program Manager’s Guide to Evaluation: from the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, this guide starts with the basics (What is evaluation?) and walks through preparing for and executing a program evaluation.
  • Practical Evaluation of Public Health Programs Workbook: prepared by the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center for the Cents for Disease Control and Prevention, this workbook supplements an entire course on evaluating health programs, walking the reader through the process from beginning to end including questions to guide discussion and reflection.
  • User Friendly Handbook for Project Evaluation: from the National Science Foundation, Division of Research, Evaluation and Communication, this basic handbook has very nice sections on the strengths and weaknesses of various data collection methods.
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook: from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, this handbook is aimed at informing grantees about the evaluation process from preparation to implementation to utilization.

I hope that you will consider recommending ones that you have identified via the comments for this post.

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  • Rebekah Levin · June 30, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Thanks, Ira, for this assortment of guides/manuals. I am putting something together for our grantees as well, and I have two other resources that I have found helpful. One was recommended by Maggie Jones, at the Center for Community Health and Evaluation, Group Health Research Institute. It is a guide to Evaluation Design and was published by Univ of WI (and is posted along with a whole array of other printed resources).

    The other resource is a manual on conducting program evaluation that is beautifully crafted and designed for organizations that may have no prior experience with evaluation, but for whom a long treatise is not going to work. It was published by the Girl’s Best Friend Foundation here in Chicago, which has since sunsetted. I asked permission to scan it and share it with others, and they said that they would be pleased if others made use of it. So I’ve posted it to McCormick Foundation’s website.

    If others have found manuals that they like, I hope that we’ll continue to share them. The less that we have to spend time recreating the wheel, the better.


  • Tommi Rivers · June 29, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Hello Ira,
    Thank you for the helpful posting! Below are my impressions and comments on the resources you’ve provided:
    1. The Evaluation Cookbook is a very helpful guide for individuals who are new to evaluation, as it is concisely written with easy to understand terms and concepts.
    2. The Program Manager’s Guide to Evaluation is one of the most helpful I’ve used, but I wanted to post that the link has changed. The direct link to this “rad resource” is
    3. The CDC’s Practical Evaluation Workbook is quite different in that it truly is a workbook rather than a guide, per se. This is a very useful tool for a team of evaluators to use collectively.
    4. The User Friendly Handbook for Project Evaluation is rather aptly named. I’d not come across this resource and thoroughly enjoyed reading it (and have shared it with colleagues as well). Exhibit 5 offers a very straight-forward logic model (I adore using logic models, but admittedly get carried away with them), yet this is a format many would stomach easily. Exhibit 7 is also very helpful for evaluators in conceptualizing targeted evaluation activities for individual and distinct target audiences. Highly recommend this resource.
    5. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook is helpful for laying the (pardon the redundancy) foundation for solid evaluation, providing a more than adequate overview of the importance. The section on Implementation Evaluation is key, as this is an area often overlooked by program evaluators.

    Again, thanks for posting these resources and I do hope that my feedback was helpful for anyone who reads and uses these resources.



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