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Evaluation and the Grant Application - October 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Evaluation, or assessment, is the process by which you determine the degree to which your goals and objectives are being achieved. Most funding agencies require an evaluation; many give it major importance. The evaluation leads naturally to the report that you prepare at the end of the project to submit to the supporting agency.

The evaluation section is an integral part of a grant proposal. It contains the plan that spells out in advance how you will know that you have accomplished what you have said you would. It describes how you will prove to the funding agency that they have received their money's worth from the award and that you have used their money to benefit the common good.

On the practical side, your plan for evaluation serves you as a ready guide for monitoring what is actually happening as a result of the activities you are engaging in.

When putting together the evaluation section of a grant proposal there are some common pitfalls to avoid.  These include:
  • Because you are so focused on achieving the goal and designing the methods by which you will achieve that goal, and thus solve the problem, it is easy to treat the evaluation section offhandedly or fail to give it the careful attention it deserves.
  • Be exact. Don't employ vague statements about assessment, like "The evaluation will take place at weekly team conferences," or "Clear, comprehensive records and documentation will be maintained."
  • Beware of falling into the "let Mary do it" syndrome: "Professor-has-won-every-award-in-the-world will design appropriate measures."
  • Don't be absurdly evasive: "The evaluation consists of an ongoing review of data derived from the survey obtained at the initial interview so that both client and program needs may be determined and addressed." Wow! All those words, and they say absolutely nothing that will encourage a funding agency to entrust their money to you.
Always Remember
Evaluation design flows logically from the program goals and objectives. Your project intends to produce change.   Show how things were before you began your project.  Indicate to what extent change took place.   You do this through the procedures in your well-designed plan of evaluation.  

Source:  University of Eastern Michigan, Office of Research Development,
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