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Development of the Regional Training Sessions
We began this study by
conducting a needs assessment to determine what level of experience MRC units
had with program evaluation. This was done to ensure that the training we
developed for the regional meetings would be most relevant. Our findings
revealed that very few units had experience with program evaluation or had even
established a formal strategic plan. In addition, there was substantial
variation among units in terms of their size, structure, and scope, and most
units were still in the early stages of development.1
Based on our findings, we
designed the training to focus on strategic planning and how to develop a
program logic model. Strategic planning is the critical first step in any
evaluation because it clearly describes the goal(s) and objectives of the
program. The intent of the training was to educate MRC coordinators on the need
for strategic planning and to provide them with a basic understanding of a
logic model, how one is developed, and how to use a logic model to guide
performance measurement and evaluation.
The training consisted of two
components: a short introductory presentation on strategic planning and the
logic model, followed by a "hands on" session so unit coordinators could
practice developing a logic model. We felt that this was the best way to fully
engage coordinators from advanced units and those from units that were just
being started. For the interactive session, participants (most were unit
coordinators, but some were program staff) were divided into groups of five to
ten people and each group was given a different hypothetical situation and goal
statement, as well as a list of resources (e.g., number of volunteers). Using
this information, they were asked to describe the short- and long-term outcomes
that they wanted to accomplish and the major activities that were required to
reach those outcomes. An example of a logic model handout developed for the
first regional training is provided in Appendix A.
The training sessions also
consisted of a "report back" in which each group shared the results of their
logic model, described their rationale for selecting the outcomes and
activities they did, and identified key challenges with the process. This
provided a good opportunity for the participants to observe and learn from how
other groups approached the exercise.
1. Over half of the MRC units currently registered at the time were less than 2.5 years old.
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