Evaluation presents an opportunity to assess program results and identify ways to improve program performance. Program evaluation is best approached as a systematic process within a framework. The steps of undertaking an evaluation are:
- Identifying goals. Think about whether you are interested in assessing program processes (e.g., what is happening in the program) or exploring program outcomes (e.g., the impact of the program).
- With the goal of the evaluation in mind, it is possible to design research questions and select an evaluation design.
- Generally, the next phase is instrument design and data collection.
- Then comes analysis of the information collected.
- Based on this analysis, identify findings and lessons learned and disseminate the results.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Framework for Program Evaluation can be tailored to oral health programs. The steps in this framework mirror those listed above and include:
- Engaging stakeholders
- Describing the program
- Focusing the evaluation design
- Gathering credible evidence
- Justifying conclusions
- Ensuring the use and sharing of lessons learned
The CDC Framework for Program Evaluation also discusses common evaluation concerns that are relevant to rural oral health programs. These include:
- Technical demands
This information may be helpful, as rural oral health programs must balance the need for evaluation information with available resources and expertise.