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.

Also known as social response bias, the skew that is present in a study when participants feel compelled to respond in socially desirable ways, in order to make the researcher (or arts organization or funder) feel good about the evaluation or subject of the study. For example, a person being interviewed by a volunteer at a voter registration drive might feel more compelled to say that s/he intends to vote in the next local election than s/he otherwise would.
In evaluation, the area, as defined by geography; number of people, artists, citizens; or other characteristics that can be influenced by a program, given its scope and other limitations.
All individuals who hold a stake, or value, in the success of your program. These can include: program participants, partner agencies, community leaders/organizers, advocates, funders, as well as artists, dialogue facilitators/mediators, staff, board, instructors, counselors, evaluators.
Also known as statistical power, procedures that test the likelihood that differences in data are due to true difference, rather than chance or random error, and that they can thus be inferred from the sample studied to the total population.
A step taken with the express purpose of meeting a goal.
The people, group, and/or community you intend to reach with your project, program, or initiative. This includes those you intend to benefit from or be influenced by your program and the group to which you intend to present your findings and recommendations.(From Cultural Mapping Toolkit)
Articulates the relationship between the social problem, issue, or change you are addressing and the strategies you’re using to get the work done. A theory of change identifies preconditions that will enable or possibly inhibit change, determines the activities that will produce positive conditions, and offers logic about why those activities are likely to work. It helps you to articulate exactly what propositions and assumptions you are testing and, therefore, what you should be assessing in your evaluation plan.
The major entity that you are analyzing in your study. For instance, a unit of analysis in a study could be: individuals, groups, a geographical unit (neighborhood, town, region). A unit of analysis could also be social interactions (arrests, youth seeking help). It is the analysis you do in your study that determines what the unit is (i.e., in one case it might be studying change in individual children and in another case the collective immigrant youth in a city).