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Chapter 7. Program Evaluation and Evaluating Community Engagement

Meryl Sufian, PhD (Chair), Jo Anne Grunbaum, EdD (Co-Chair), Tabia Henry Akintobi, PhD, MPH, Ann Dozier, PhD, Milton (Mickey) Eder, PhD, Shantrice Jones, MPH, Patricia Mullan, PhD, Charlene Raye Weir, RN, PhD, Sharrice White-Cooper, MPH

Background

A common theme through Chapters 1−6 was that community engagement develops over time and that its development is largely based on ongoing co-learning about how to enhance collaborations. The evaluation of community engagement programs provides an opportunity to assess and enhance these collaborations. Community members can be systematically engaged in assessing the quality of a community-engaged initiative, measuring its outcomes, and identifying opportunities for improvement.

This chapter summarizes the central concepts in program evaluation relevant to community engagement programs, including definitions, categories, approaches, and issues to anticipate. The chapter is not intended as a comprehensive overview of program evaluation; instead, the focus is on the importance of evaluating community-engaged initiatives and methods for this evaluation. With this in mind, Chapter 7 will present the following: (1) a definition of evaluation, (2) evaluation phases and processes, (3) two approaches to evaluation that are particularly relevant for the evaluation of community-engaged initiatives, (4) specific evaluation methods, and (5) challenges to be overcome to ensure an effective evaluation. Stakeholder engagement (i.e., inclusion of persons involved in or affected by programs) constitutes a major theme in the evaluation frameworks. In addition, methodological approaches and recommendations for communication and dissemination will be included. Examples are used throughout the chapter for illustrative purposes.

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