|Guidance for Analysis|
Where do I begin in analyzing my data?
Once you have chosen the right evaluation tool for your prevention program, trained your staff to use the tool, and collected data from your program participants, you will find yourself immersed in the challenging task of analyzing your data. You may have engaged in evaluation efforts in the past that have yielded tall stacks of completed surveys and little evidence of the wonderful services that your program has provided.
A critical element of engaging in evidence-based practice is to use the data that you have collected to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your program. This identification should directly and immediately impact on-going programming decisions, models, and service delivery. High quality evaluation has the potential to advance the knowledge, skills, and abilities of your staff and stakeholders to promote the important prevention work that you are doing. In addition to improving program practices, strong data can also make a powerful case to gain additional funds and support for prevention.
How do I categorize my data?
Through your evaluation efforts, you may collect data in many different forms; by survey; assessment of skill development or developmental change; face-to-face interviews with staff and participants; or observation of program activities or family, program and community context. Although data may be collected in various ways, the information that you gather will fall into one of two categories; either qualitative data or quantitative data.
What is the value in having both qualitative and quantitative data?
The combination of qualitative and quantitative data can provide a portrait of a program that is complete with individual stories of change along with overarching impacts to the program and community. You may organize data in any way that is most effective to share the story of your program and the important work that you are doing. However, it is essential that evaluators think critically about the statistics and stories that they gather through evaluation and present a picture that most accurately represents the program and participants. Remember, the context within which data was gathered must always be considered when reporting statistics and stories as fact.
Where can I find more information on reporting data?
FRIENDS has developed a resource on reporting your data. To view this resource, click here. FRIENDS has also developed a resource specific to Qualitative Data. Using Qualitative Data in Program Evaluation: Telling the Story of a Prevention Program is a guide was developed as a resource for program administrators, managers, direct service practitioners and others as they expand and enhance current and future evaluation efforts by understanding and using qualitative methods.