Foundational Concepts for Conducting Program Evaluations

Document Type


Publication Date



Evaluation is one of the critical steps in the process of performance improvement. Evaluation feeds evidence-based information back to the next cycle of performance improvement. However, organizations often neglect to conduct comprehensive evaluations on their programs due to environmental barriers or the lack of practitioners’ evaluation expertise. This article presents some of the foundational evaluation-related concepts and procedures that would help human performance improvement practitioners when conducting comprehensive systematic and systemic evaluations of the interventions implemented in organizations: (a) evaluation versus research, (b) front-end evaluation versus back-end evaluation, (c) definition of program evaluation, (d) types of program stakeholders, (e) development of program logic models, (f) formative evaluation versus summative evaluation, (g) merit versus worth, and (h) development of evaluation dimensions. Such foundational knowledge is just one of the first steps to prevent evaluations from being neglected or mistaken with simple measurements through administering instruments such as smiley sheets.