Evaluation research involves gathering a wide variety of indicators in order to better understand how a program is operating, its impact, and what can be done to improve it. The performance indicators that many organizations collect routinely as part of their daily operations can provide important information for a program evaluation (e.g., attendance, client demographics), but are not themselves considered evaluation research. Evaluation involves systematically and intentionally collecting and reviewing information in order to understand and strengthen a program.
This chapter offers service providers guidance around evaluating programming within their organizations, with a particular focus on mental health initiatives. It discusses developing evaluation questions and choosing sources and methods for obtaining information. It also examines ethical considerations in conducting evaluation research.