Course Number: 91-823
Administrators, managers and politicians are frequently required to make critical decisions as to funding priorities. Should a new program be funded? Should an existing program be expanded, cut-back or disbanded? What are a program's strengths and deficiencies and how can the former be enhanced and the latter improved? Often the individuals entrusted with these important decisions have much at stake. Yet, they may not have a basis for making a systematic informed decision.
Program evaluation provides an objective basis for decision making; it entails the consistent application of behavioral science research methods in order to assess the efficacy of a social program's conceptualization, design, implementation and outcome. It enables the individual to obtain some objective information as to merits and liabilities of social programs.
Such information can prove useful in determining whether and how to expand the program, in understanding why certain components of a program may not be working effectively, in helping administrators to prioritize funding commitments, and in comparing the effectiveness of two competing programs. Finally, for granting agencies and board of directors confronted with the decision of whether to fund a program, program evaluations can provide compelling evidence on which to base a decision.
This course is designed to familiarize the student with the basic conceptual, theoretical and methodological tools required to conduct program evaluations. Students apply this knowledge as they carry out small-scale program evaluations in community organizations. The hands-on experience gives students an opportunity to master substantive material, to translate this mastery into action, and to apply decision-making and problem-solving skills to the practical, day-to-day activities of program evaluation.