The Rush to Measure Outcomes: Process Evaluation and Return on Investment; How Process Evaluation Has Been Used to Enhance ROI in a Statewide Parenting Project for Youth at Risk for Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drug Use. (Article)

By Murphy, Sheila E.; Dowling, Jane | The Public Manager, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

The Rush to Measure Outcomes: Process Evaluation and Return on Investment; How Process Evaluation Has Been Used to Enhance ROI in a Statewide Parenting Project for Youth at Risk for Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drug Use. (Article)


Murphy, Sheila E., Dowling, Jane, The Public Manager


In the face of scarce resources, funders and program administrators are keenly and understandably interested in demonstrating as soon as possible the outcomes and even the impact of services provided. All too often, this eagerness to measure outcomes yields disappointing results. Why? In the rush to offer proof that programs are working, opportunities for examining critical processes that underlie the achievement of outcomes may be missed. Simply stated, process evaluation raises the probability that programs will lead to the desired outcomes.

Process evaluation offers an opportunity to examine the expectations, the structure, the organization, the delivery flow, and the ease of use involved in effective program delivery. Most importantly, process evaluation provides a means of clarifying what needs to be adjusted to ensure that a program can be successful. An investment in process evaluation strengthens the context within which outcome evaluation takes place.

In this article, we have cited examples of process evaluation at the state level from the area of prevention programs for substance abuse, emphasizing parenting education.

What Is Process Evaluation?

Process evaluation is a methodical approach to examining and assessing the strategic systems and processes included in program delivery, the implementation patterns, and the procedures used to ensure service delivery. In describing the strategic and logistical components of program delivery, process evaluation identifies those approaches that work effectively, while highlighting those requiring improvement. Further, process evaluation provides information that directly impacts the possibility of program replication.

In a statewide project in Arizona seeking to upgrade parenting skills in parents of youth at risk for tobacco, alcohol, and drug use, a process evaluation was undertaken by the evaluation team prior to embarking on an outcome evaluation. The purpose of the process evaluation was to examine closely those factors that would put in place the framework needed to maintain strong parenting classes.

Among the components examined during the process evaluation were the following:

* identification of target families (e.g., those at risk);

* recruitment approaches used to bring parents into the program; and

* retention techniques to ensure that enrollees remained in the program.

Nitty Gritty Issues

Process evaluation emphasizes those areas that might be described as the "nitty gritty," or common sense elements that someone not in the field of prevention might ask. Among the questions that might emerge are these:

1. Is the program offering reaching the right people?

2. What methods are used to recruit the appropriate target population?

3. Once people enroll in the program, what methods are used to ensure that participants complete the course?

Answering such questions represents an important part of process evaluation, which seeks to establish that the program is happening, and that it is being delivered to the specifications agreed upon by funder and provider.

Two important areas that process evaluation can assess are verification of service provision and delivery efficacy.

Verification of Service Provision

Is the service reaching the intended population in the manner prescribed, and accomplishing what it purports to accomplish? In the case of statewide parenting programs, this is a critically important category of investigation. The funder wants to ensure that what has been agreed upon by the funded agency is actually being delivered to the clients. Once this has been determined, it will be possible to plan a review of outcomes planned and achieved. However, without first verifying that the program is actually being provided to clients, Outcome evaluation is not possible. …

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
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 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 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.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Rush to Measure Outcomes: Process Evaluation and Return on Investment; How Process Evaluation Has Been Used to Enhance ROI in a Statewide Parenting Project for Youth at Risk for Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drug Use. (Article)
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
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
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.”

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 8, MLA 7, 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." (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.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    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.