For those of you conducting life skills activities or life skills training with young people or adult facilitators. Here is number 11 out of a series of 15 weekly posts on Monitoring and Evaluating Life Skills. Each of them are extracted from the Toolkit I developed for the Jacobs Foundation with the help of many of their field partners and which you can download for FREE by clicking here. Please find the Lifeskills Toolkit half way down the page under the heading, Intervention and Application. If you wish to have a hard (printed) copy please contact me with a short description of your work and why you would like the hard copy. As always please comment on these posts and let's get a conversation going!
The toolkit sets out 12 steps for planning and implementing your project evaluation. In practice, the steps may not always flow from one to another. There will be some movement backwards and forwards and there may be a need to add to, take away from or change the order of steps. Each evaluation works differently as each evaluation and each project has its own unique purpose. The crucial thing is to plan evaluations which are useful, enjoyable and realistic given the amount of time and resources for the project and the expertise of those involved. Where it is helpful, an example is set out in shaded boxes below the general points for each step. Here is more on steps 8 and 9 .
STEP Eight: Conduct monitoring and evaluation activities
This step is to implement the monitoring and evaluation activities planned using the tools and recording the information you have designed.
Step NINE: ASSEMBLE, CLEAN AND ORGANISE information gathered
This step is about turning information that has been gathered during monitoring and evaluation into DATA in preparation for DATA ANALYSIS. The information will need to be ASSEMBLED, CLEANED and then ORGANISED.
ASSEMBLING is about putting all the information from the variety of sources together, from evaluation and monitoring, reading it, looking at it, listening to it and getting an overview of what you have. It is useful to do this with someone else so you can discuss it.
CLEANING information is about removing information or sets of information. For example – maybe a question was not translated correctly or maybe one group being evaluated were asked to do the activity differently to the majority of the groups and the results from this group look ‘wrong’.
ORGANISING information is about reformatting information and/or putting information sets together ready to be compared or counted. The information gathered may test more than one indicator or more than one aspect of this indicator. The information may be recorded in different ways and in different places. There may be:
• Notes on or filled tick boxes on an observation schedule;
• Notes or an audio recording of/notes from a focus group discussion;
• Photos or videos;
• Information from different sections of a questionnaire;
• Information from different questionnaires; or
• Notes taken in an interview.
It may be useful (depending again on your purpose) to organize all the information about one indicator or groups of indicators together in one place. This might be a simple matter of cutting and pasting information, or dividing parts of a questionnaire into two or more places.
If the evaluation is taking place at the beginning or half way through a project and will be repeated, consider if you need to clearly identify data back to particular individuals or groups so that when it is done again, the changes can be noted and verified.
If you need to identify the different bits of information, do this as you organise it. You might use a name or a CODE. CODES are useful if anonymity is useful or important for confidentiality. If you are separating different bits of information, remember to identify them all later so the information can be reassembled and used again.
Do not forget to include relevant information generated by those monitoring the project.
For examples of how to do this download the full version of the toolkit here.