Evaluation Terms: A Glossary

The terms here will help increase your general understanding of evaluation as well as search and navigate this site. The terms selected include the types and approaches to evaluation and standard research concepts.

Time and/or resources invested or the activities undertaken to make change
Important changes that occur as a result of a program or initiative that may be considered prerequisites of longer-term impact or appropriate ends themselves. They are the types of outcomes often achieved by arts-based civic engagement initiatives and fall in the realm of social and civic capacity building for individuals, institutions, networks, and communities.  Intermediate outcomes may be the explicit focus or desired effects of a project or program. Examples of intermediate capacity-building effects are: heightened awareness; increased numbers or diversity of individuals who are engaged; and new relationships built among organizations. (From Chris Dwyer’s Arts and Civic Engagement: Briefing Paper for Working Group of the Arts and Civic Engagement Impact Initiative)
People whose personal or professional position gives them a knowledgeable perspective on the nature and scope of a social problem or a target population and whose views are obtained during an assessment or evaluation. For arts-based civic engagement work, key informants may include community members, organizers, elected officials, or cultural group leaders. Adapted from Lipsey: Rossi, Peter H., Mark W. Lipsey, and Howard E. Freeman. 2004. Evaluation: A Systemic Approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
A diagram that explicitly shows relationships between a project’s goals, inputs (or resources), activities, and outcomes (or results). Logic models reflect a project’s theory of change, that is, how the program works (or logic behind) in order to effect the desired change. The goals state desired change over the life of the project or program.Inputs are the resources involved in your program, including human resources, space, materials, equipment, and technology. Activities are the action steps that will be taken to implement and reach the goal and are usually summarized into major categories, such as marketing, production, presenting, community organizing, etc. Outputs are the distinct products that the project produces and which can be counted, such as number of art work produced, pamphlets distributed, people who attended, or voters registered. Outcomes are the intended results of the program. (From Suzanne Callahan’s Singing Our Praises)
A unit of measure like a standard score or a rating, essentially how an instrument calibrates degrees of change.
The regular reporting of program results in ways that stakeholders can use to understand and judge those results.
Bias that results when information is absent in your study from those who chose not to respond.
The intended results from a program, usually indicated by the kinds and degree of change that occur. Examples of arts-based civic engagement outcome goals could be heightened public awareness of a civic issue; media coverage of an issue is more balanced; or a policy is enacted or changed.
The quantifiable, measurable, and distinct end product(s) of a program. Examples are: artworks (performance, mural, spoken word event), collaborations created, dialogues forums or engagement activities (e.g. rallies, river clean-up, neighborhood planning meetings), votes, news stories generated, information vehicles (web sites, brochures, creative posters).
A process that involves key participants in planning and implementing evaluation, including: setting goals, developing research questions, interpreting data, making decisions, and using the information. The participatory approach is designed to increase participation in and ownership of collective inquiry on the part of stakeholders, as well as the usefulness of the information gathered.