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Build consensus around an evaluation plan

A successful evaluation process begins by engaging those with a vested interest in the implementation and/or impact of your selected policy or program. Take some time to brainstorm about who your stakeholders are before you create your evaluation plan. Is there anyone else who might have a vested interest in the outcomes of your policy or program?

Each type of stakeholder will have a different perspective on your policy or program as well as what they want to learn from the evaluation. You can group stakeholders into four main categories, depending on your specific policy or program.

  • Implementers: those involved in making the policy or program happen.
  • Partners: those who actively support the policy or program.
  • Participants: those served or affected by the policy or program.
  • Decision makers: those in a position to do or decide something about the policy or program.¹

As you consider who to involve from each stakeholder group, think about how you can identify, support, and include diverse participants so the evaluation design reflects different perspectives. How do people of different status see the problem and therefore potential solutions? Think about how you can create an inclusive process that will build shared understanding of the community values  that are the context for your program or policy initiative.

Once you’ve identified who should be at the evaluation table with your core evaluation team, decide how each stakeholder should be involved. Involving everyone in each step is unwieldy. Decisions about stakeholder involvement are not easy but can be made according to needs and interests, authority, control of resources, time availability, or specific knowledge or skills. Certain stakeholders might be key for certain stages of the process.¹

The CDC’s Physical Activity Evaluation Handbook includes questions for stakeholders that can be used throughout the evaluation process. It can help you understand stakeholders’ interests in your efforts and identify evaluation questions.

  • What is important about this policy or program?
  • Who do you represent, or why are you interested in this policy or program?
  • What would you like this policy or program to accomplish?
  • What are the critical evaluation questions?
  • How will you use the results of this evaluation?
  • What resources (e.g., time, evaluation experience, funding) can you contribute to this evaluation?¹

1.    US Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Evaluation Handbook. In: US Department of Health and Human Services, editor. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2002.

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