Evaluation of Public Legal Education And Information: An Annotated Bibliography

Appendix A. The Art and Science of Evaluation*

Allison Mackenzie, Law Society of Alberta
Power Point presentation
The Art & Science of Evaluation

What Is Evaluation?

  • Using science to answer "how did we do what can we do better?"
  • Systematic program evaluation is the foundation for demonstrating value.
  • We need to embrace rigorous program evaluation in order to demonstrate value.

Why Evaluate?

  • Gather data to justify programming.
  • Identify new needs.
  • Determine what's being done right and importantly, what needs to be finetuned.

Why Evaluate?

  • Measure program impact or effectiveness with respect to goals and objectives.
  • You know what you are presenting / intending do you know what is actually being delivered?

Setting the Stage for Evaluation

  • Do you have a formal plan for overall business operations and for each initiative?
  • Have you established program objectives and outcomes to provide a basis for the measurement of true results.

Setting the Stage for Evaluation

  • Are your project goals linked to organizational goals? Have you identified your purpose / messages, target groups and desired outcomes?
  • It is difficult to measure PLE as it involves measuring changing attitudes, beliefs and perceptions.


  • No single measurement tool for measuring PLE effectiveness.
  • Use a combination of measurement and evaluation tools and techniques to establish program benchmarks
  • Determine success in "moving the needle."


  • Media content analysis
  • Cyberspace analysis
  • Trade show and event measurement (always after, never during)
  • Polls and surveys
  • Focus groups

When to Use Surveys

  • Need to explain the motivations and attitudes driving public's behaviour.
  • Want to establish a baseline of information to measure the effectiveness of a program.

When to Use Surveys

  • Survey construction is an art; You can be confident asking respondents program related questions keep it simple; Use the same survey repeatedly.
  • To create a survey go online and do some research many useful examples of good surveys available online to suit most needs.


  • Quantitative telephone, mail, in person, email, internet provides overall information.
  • Qualitative focus groups, in depth one on one interviews provides indepth information.

Simple Survey

  • Most common are telephone and exit; Or follow up by mail surveys.
  • Combination of open and closed ended questions.
  • Scale of 1 to 5 measurable.
  • A few, but not many open ended questions (interpretation is complex).


  • Simple clear and direct, and short.
  • One concept per question with difficult concepts, reword and ask in another way geographically removed from first asking.


  • Open ended questions solicit top of mind awareness, thoughts and opinions;
  • Closed ended questions provide a range of responses and respondents are asked to select one.

To Survey or Not to Survey?

  • You can do simple surveys.
  • Keep it simple 10 to 15 closed ended questions numerical scale of 1 to 5.
  • Final question asking for comments.

Focus Groups

  • Most common research method used.
  • Ethnographic research ? observation, participation observation.
  • Provide a basis for sound decision making.

Focus Groups

  • Need a specially trained facilitator.
  • Provides qualitative results about thoughts and feelings.
  • As a follow up to a survey provides more detail to issues to help you understand why participants answered they did.

Informal Focus Groups

  • Gather a group of volunteers community league, friends ask them to review your brochure or materials and provide their opinions.
  • Talk to them and find out what works and what does not work.
  • Create an online focus group.

Informal Focus Groups

  • Set a topic and a time frame.
  • Ask an informed colleague to facilitate.
  • Invite key stakeholders to participate.
  • Monitor; Ask facilitator for clarifications.
  • Results can be used for evaluation or needs assessment.


  • Talk to people what do they think or feel prepare questions in advance.
  • Ask people involved in delivery, staff and participants how they perceive an issue.
  • Ask for understanding on issues.
  • Oneonone interviews (long) can be especially appropriate.

Content Analysis

  • Content analysis is a form of systematic analysis using clearly outlined factors for analysis.
  • Any issue you'll be delivering on monitor your local newspapers.
  • Do on line research what are the commonly held misperceptions what do you intend to change how much coverage do these issues get i.e. perceptions re gun control.
  • What words/rhetoric are used used to describe the topic?

Other Quantitative

  • Phone calls
  • Email responses
  • Web site hits

5 Tips for Evaluation

  • #1
    • Carefully set your program objectives.
    • Remember that evaluation begins when planning starts.
    • Evaluation will be based on more than assessing whether whether the program was delivered did participants gain knowledge? Change opinions?
    • Did it do what was intended?
  • #2
    • Consider getting someone else to do the evaluation.
    • Colleague or coworker.
    • You want impartial, independent feedback.
  • #3
    • Evaluation does not have to cost $$$.
    • Conference or trade show simple exit survey like the one we'll use today.
    • Evaluating printed materials readership survey with small prize.
    • Websites seek visitor input.
  • #4
    • Evaluate at the time of running the program or within the yearly planning cycle.
    • Results can be considered in planning process.
  • #5 - Commit to Act on Results
    • Commit to act on evaluation outcomes.
    • Meaningless if not acted upon.
    • Crucial if used to hone, learn and fine tune.
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