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The first critical step in assessment is to conduct a process evaluation. It answers the question,"Was the intervention put into place as planned and how was it altered for implementation?" As shown in the figure, a process evaluation focuses on the resources that were employed by the response (inputs) and the activities accomplished with these resources (results), but it does not examine whether the response was effective at reducing the problem (outcomes). For that you need an impact evaluation. An impact evaluation tells you whether the problem changed (Steps 47 to 53).
Both types of evaluations are needed in a POP project. The table summarizes possible conclusions based on the findings of both types of evaluation. A) The response was implemented in accordance with the plans, and there are no other reasonable explanations for the decline. So there is credible evidence that the response caused the reduction. B) The response was implemented as planned, but there was no reduction in the problem. So there is credible evidence that the response was ineffective.
But what if the response was not implemented as planned? In this case, it is hard to come to a useful conclusion. C) If the problem declined, it might mean that the response was accidentally effective or some other factor was responsible. D) If the problem did not decline, then no useful conclusion is possible. Perhaps the implemented response is faulty and the original response would have been effective, or neither is effective. Unless the planned response was implemented, it is hard to learn from an impact evaluation.
|Process Evaluation Results|
|Response implemented as planned||Response not implemented as planned|
|Impact Evaluation Results||Problem declined and no other likely cause||A. Evidence that the response caused the decline||C. Suggests that the response was accidentally effective or that other factors may have caused the decline|
|Problem did not decline||B. Evidence that the response was ineffective||D. Little is learned|
A response is a complex piece of machinery with a variety of components, any of which can go wrong (Step 45). A process evaluation examines which components were carried out successfully. The process evaluation checklist highlights the questions that you should ask.
Scheduling of activities in a problem response is often critical. For this reason, it is useful to create a project timeline showing when key components were implemented. It is also useful to show when other unexpected events occurred and noting publicity so you can check for Anticipatory Benefits (Step 52).
Though unexpected developments can force you to modify a response, some of these developments can be anticipated by understanding what can go wrong with responses. Some of the possible answers are as follows:
Process evaluations require information. This information will come largely from members of the problem-solving team, so it is important that they document their activities. Which activities they document and who records it in what detail are questions that should be resolved while planning the response.