The Evaluation of Leisure Programs: Applying Qualitative Methods

By Howe, Christine Z. | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, October 1993 | Go to article overview

The Evaluation of Leisure Programs: Applying Qualitative Methods


Howe, Christine Z., JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


As the challenges of society become increasingly costly and complex for leisure professionals, the importance of responsible decision making in the use of resources is paramount. Conscientious leisure programmers faced with diverse recreational demands from competing and sometimes conflicting groups must make decisions as fairly as possible. What can programmers use to help them make these decisions?

Evaluation, as one of the crucial steps in leisure programming, can help programmers make better decisions (Edginton, Hanson, & Edginton, 1992; Farrell & Lundegren, 1988; Howe & Carpenter, 1985; Rossman, 1989; Russell, 1982). Evaluation is usually defined as a systematic process of judging the merit of a program for either formative or summative purposes. Evaluation requires collecting information to serve as the basis for planning, analysis, and decision making. The process of systematic evaluation is similar to conducting applied research (Kraus & Allen, 1987; Lundegren & Farrell, 1985; Theobald, 1979, 1985). So, the methods that are available to use in applied research can also be used in program evaluation.

What determines the value of a program? Two broad indicators of a program's value include efficiency and effectiveness. If a program is efficient, it uses resources prudently and is worthy of continued investment. If a program is effective, it is enjoyable, meaningful, and satisfying for the participants. A programmer's determination of specific evaluation criteria directs his or her selection of evaluation method. When a programmer focuses on efficiency, a rationalistic evaluation approach is often taken using quantitative methods to collect and analyze numerical data (e.g., pricing, participation rates). When a programmer focuses on effectiveness, a naturalistic evaluation approach is useful. Qualitative methods to collect and analyze open ended written, spoken, or observed information can be used (e.g., What does participating in the low impact aerobics program mean to you? Why did you discontinue attending the stamp collecting club?).

This article discusses the effectiveness component of leisure program evaluation. First, the naturalistic program evaluation approach is introduced. Then, the qualitative information collection and analysis technique of participant observation is highlighted. Observation, interviews, the review of documents, and content analysis are described. Finally, some suggested applications to professional practice are offered.

Naturalistic Program Evaluation

Approach

Before beginning any program evaluation, to learn something about context, the philosophy, goals, and objectives of the leisure service organization should be reviewed. This background can help build the foundation for the first few evaluation questions or issues that programmers will use to access the participants, guide initial observations, or start interviews.

When focusing on effectiveness, programmers want to know why participating in the program facilitates meaningful, fulfilling leisure expression as perceived or judged by participants. In naturalistic evaluation, the information gleaned from participants through observing their behavior over time, indepth interviewing, or examining items they have created (drawings, stories, etc.) is key to evaluating the program. The judgment criteria or evaluation questions concentrate on participants' enjoyment, meaning, and satisfaction (Rossman, 1980, 1989). Once the first few evaluation criteria/questions are established, programmers must determine how to best gather evidence from participants. This leads to the evaluation design - the interrelated information collection, analysis, and interpretation process.

Qualitative Information Collection and

Analysis via Participant Observation

The collection, analysis, and interpretation of qualitative information is an inquiry process that follows a general game plan. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Evaluation of Leisure Programs: Applying Qualitative Methods
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.