Program Evaluation Strategies Highlighted in New APHA Book

By Johnson, Teddi Dineley | The Nation's Health, April 2010 | Go to article overview

Program Evaluation Strategies Highlighted in New APHA Book


Johnson, Teddi Dineley, The Nation's Health


MURIEL Harris took her enthusiasm for public health program evaluation to the classroom in 2006 when she began teaching it to first-year public health students at the University of Louisville, Ky., School of Public Health and Information Sciences.

But Harris soon realized that many students, especially those from undergraduate backgrounds outside of public health, struggled with the required course. Further complicating the situation, the teaching materials available to her did not align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's six-step framework for public health program evaluation.

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"That is the framework I prefer to use because students need to be able to go through a systematic approach to evaluation," Harris, PhD, MPH, told The Nation's Health.

Determined to make the course more enriching and engaging, Harris, who is an APHA member, sat down at her computer one night and started writing her own textbook. She outlined the chapters, giving careful consideration to the many concepts and ideas that needed to be incorporated in the book, and over the course of the year a new textbook emerged.

"Evaluating Public and Community Health Programs," co-published by APHA and Jossey-Bass, walks users through four steps of evaluation: designing the evaluation, collecting the data, analyzing and interpreting the data, and reporting the findings. Learning objectives, key terms and ideas for review are included in each chapter.

"The book is very readable and very accessible to anybody," Harris said, noting that it provides readers with a systematic, step-by-step approach to program evaluation and is intended for "new learners of evaluation," whether they are students at the undergraduate or graduate level or practitioners in a public health setting who want to use it as a resource to learn evaluation as they conduct a review of their own programs. …

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