The number of times the observation is done, number of observers, and the time of the observation are the main choices to consider when using the observation method.
When constructing a survey, an evaluator should employ the language of the potential interviewee. The evaluator should also make sure that the survey is brief and contains clear instructions; make each survey item a single question; use many questions to obtain data on a particular variable; complement the data entry method; test the efficiency of the survey using a pilot sample; and embrace consistency in survey wording and formatting.
Sample selection is important because oftentimes, it may not be applicable to study an entire population. Instead, a suitable sample is used to represent the population. This overcomes the time and economic limitations of evaluating an entire population.
In an evaluation, it is imperative to describe what each number (in a Likert-type scale) means to avoid ambiguity and help the respondents know what their answers imply.
Purposive sampling is used where the participants are selected based on the purpose of the study. It is unlike convenience sampling which is based on the ease of reaching participants. For example, if the evaluator wants to know if janitors understand biohazards and precautions, the sample would include janitors, not other types of samples.
The following are the advantages of doing focus group interviews: the interviewer is able to unearth new, unanticipated information; the interviewer interacts and established a personal contact with interviewees, facilitating collection of useful data; the interviewer has access to detailed information; the researcher can include everyone in the sample unlike other methods; and the interviewer can make personal observations which help the evaluation.
Advantages associated with the method include difficulties in scheduling for the interviews, some members of the groups can refuse to participate for various reasons, possibility of obtaining diverse responses due to different interpretation of the survey questions by different group members, and the fact that the method is more expensive than others (the interviewer must be skilled for optimal results).
Communicating and reporting an evaluation is important to establish collaboration between stakeholders and the evaluators. It is especially imperative where an evaluation’s objective is learning, because it ensures that the goal is achieved as planned. Ongoing timely and accessible communications are an important characteristic of good evaluations.
Personnel files, databases and management files are three sources of archival data. The sources are advantageous because the data obtained are often objective and relevant, is easy to collect, and there is ease of analyzing the information since it is mainly quantitative. The demerits include inaccuracy and lack of representativeness, difficulties in accessing and analyzing the data in a good fashion, and lack of room to follow up on the data or combine other methods.
In selecting an ideal interviewer, the evaluator should consider that the interviewer is most important in the evaluation process. The evaluator should select an interviewer who can be objective, neutral and unbiased, and is able to handle unexpected challenges as the interview progresses. An interviewer with experience in such areas as counseling and journalism should be preferred. The evaluator must ensure that the selected interviewer has strong communication and interpersonal skills. Preferably, the interview should have education in behavioral or social sciences or any other research-relevant field. The interview should be able to available throughout the research timeline. The evaluator should ascertain that the interviewer can establish rapport with the interviewees.
The three interview techniques include unstructured, semi-structured and structured. In unstructured interviews, the questions are not pre-developed and the conversation flow dictates the questions posed. In semi-structured interviews, pre-developed questions are used but the interview can include additional queries as deemed necessary. Structured questions employ strict, pre-developed questions and no additions may be made during the interview.
While quantitative data may be represented numerically in percentages, frequencies and averages, qualitative data are open-ended and cannot be numerically represented. There are limited possible responses in quantitative data, whereas qualitative data is often extensive and interviewers must analyze the data non-numerically to draw conclusions.
If it is assumed that sales for a training program increase by $ 200, 000 yearly, and the cost of the program is $10,000. The Cost/Benefit Ratio can be calculated thus:
Benefit/Cost Ratio = Program Benefits/Program Costs= $ 200, 000/$ 10, 000 = 2.
This implies that the Benefit/Cost Ration is 2:1.
Observation is valuable in addressing evaluation questions since it is more accurate in evaluating relationships and processes among other study issues, than self-reporting which may give biased results. An example is when studying knowledge for employees, whereby self-reporting can give subjective results, but observations are accurate.