Measurement and Evaluation
Evaluation uses social science research methods and tools such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and secondary data to determine whether projects, programs, or initiatives are reaching their goals and to what extent. Evaluation tracks the activities and products of programs as well the effect of these activities, otherwise known as outcomes and impacts. Evaluation measures the changes resulting from activities on individual and group knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors, as well as organizational policy, public policy, and broader systems change such as the economy, environment, and society. Our evaluation approach focuses primarily on measuring behavioral change at the individual, organizational, and institutional level and the resulting changes in systems. We apply the principles of Appreciative Inquiry, participatory evaluation, and Collective Impact, all of which provide us with useful frameworks for better understanding how actors from multiple sectors effectively collaborate to create widespread systems change.
Best Management Practices
- Question Keeper (Topaloff, A., Enderton, A. and C. Bregendahl, 2016) an online tool that allows users to quickly sort through a large database of field-tested survey questions to build their own questionnaires and other evaluation tools. This tool was partly funded by the University of Minnesota Extension – Families. Learn more about the tool here.
- Tools to Evaluate your Coalition (Topaloff, A. Enderton, A. and C. Bregendahl, 2015) Building strong coalitions and partnerships are essential to the success of an organization. This series of four publications introduces the importance of coalitions and how evaluating those partnerships can be helpful. The series looks at how to develop coalitions, what to do when coalitions have been established and how to evaluate a mature coalition.
- The Farmers Market Coalition has developed a Farmers Market Metrics (FMMetrics) project with some great resources for evaluating the economic impact of farmers markets.
- eXtension hosts a community of practice focused on the economics of local food. Take a look at all of the resources they have developed for examining the ag and food enterprise viability, market dynamics and other key socio-economics metrics of local and regional food systems.
- Impact Brief: 2013 Economic Impact of Iowa’s Regional Food Systems Working Group. (Bregendahl, C. and A. Enderton, 2014) Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
- 2013 Economic Impacts of Iowa’s Regional Food Systems Working Group. Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture (Enderton, A. and C. Bregendahl, 2014).
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