How can we make sure evaluation findings are used to improve projects? This is a question on the minds of evaluators, project staff, and funders alike. The Expectations to Change (E2C) process is one answer. E2C is a six-step process through which evaluation stakeholders are guided from establishing performance standards (i.e., “expectations”) to formulating action steps toward desired change. The process can be completed in one or more working sessions with those evaluation stakeholders best positioned to put the findings to use. E2C is designed as a process of self-evaluation for projects, and the role of the evaluator is that of facilitator, teacher, and technical consultant. The six steps of the E2C process are summarized in the table below. While the specific activities used to carry out each step should be tailored to the setting, the suggested activities are based on various implementations of the process to date.
E2C Process Overview
|1. Set Expectations||Establish standards to serve as a frame of reference for determining whether the findings are “good” or “bad”||Instruction, worksheets, and consensus building process|
|2. Review Findings||Examine the findings, compare them to established expectations, and form an initial reaction; celebrate successes||Instruction, individual processing, and round-robin group discussion|
|3. Identify Key Findings||Identify the findings that fall below expectations and require immediate attention||Ranking process and facilitated group discussion|
|4. Interpret Key Findings||Generate interpretations of what the key findings mean||Brainstorming activity such as “Rotating Flip Charts”|
|5. Make Recommendations||Generate recommendations for change based on interpretations of the findings||Brainstorming activity such as “Rotating Flip Charts”|
|6. Plan for Change||Formulate an action plan for implementing recommendations||Planning activities that enlist all of the stakeholders and result in concrete next steps, such as sticky wall, and small group work|
To find out if the E2C process does in fact encourage projects to use evaluation for improvement, we asked a group of staff and administrators from a nonprofit, human service organization to participate in an online survey one year after their E2C workshop. The findings revealed an increase in staff knowledge and awareness of clients’ experiences receiving services, as well as specific changes to the way services were delivered. The findings also showed that participation in the E2C workshop fostered the service providers’ appreciation for, increased their knowledge of, and enhanced their ability to engage in evaluation activities.
Based on these findings and our experiences with the process to date, by providing program stakeholders with the opportunity to systematically compare their evaluation results to agreed-upon performance standards, celebrate successes and address weaknesses, the E2C process facilitates self-evaluation for the purpose of project improvement.
E2C was co-created with Nkiru Nnawulezi, M.A., and Lela Vandenberg, Ph.D., Michigan State University. For more information, contact Adrienne Adams at email@example.com.