As you develop and implement your water program, you may want to consider evaluating the program. Evaluation means systematically investigating the process and outcomes of your initiative. Effective evaluation can help you identify successes as well as ways to improve your program.
Form the Evaluation Team
To begin evaluating your water program, you will need to form your evaluation team. First, designate a “point person” or “evaluation leader.” This person will coordinate the evaluation process. Gather a team to assist in conducting the evaluation (e.g., in designing the evaluation plan, collecting and analyzing data, and reporting results). This team can include a diverse range of people who have a stake in the water program. You can also partner with public health departments and researchers at local universities to help you design and conduct the program evaluation.
Conducting a process evaluation, in which you record and study the activities, policies, and environmental changes you implemented for your program, can help you document accomplishments and challenges. For a water program, a process evaluation might include tracking the types, location, and number of new water sources installed in your school over time, or documenting the time, money, and labor that went into implementing your program. Below are domains you may want to consider when completing a process evaluation of your water program.
By documenting the outcomes of your program, you can measure whether your program met its intended goals and objectives.
- Students’ Water Consumption: A primary goal of many water programs is to increase the number of students who drink water and the amount of water they drink.
- Students’ Sugary Beverage Consumption: Because intake of sugary drinks is associated with obesity and dental cavities, it may be important to measure the impact of water programs on students’ intake of sugary beverages.
- Knowledge, Attitudes, and Intentions: You may also want to measure whether your program affected students’ or staff members’ knowledge (e.g., of the health benefits of drinking water), attitudes (e.g., perceived quality of tap water), and intentions (e.g., likelihood to drink water).
Report Results and Make Improvements
Once you have conducted your evaluation activities, you may want to summarize your findings in a written report or formal presentation. Key Questions that can help you develop a future action plan for your water program include:
- What did you learn from these evaluation activities?
- What aspects of your program went well?
- What changes would you like to make?
- Did the program have the outcomes you expected?
- What resources are needed to make the program better?