Have you ever had to develop an evaluation plan for a curriculum or program? Do you need help writing one? If you answered yes to both these questions, you have come to the right place.

You have entered a website developed by the Office of Medical Education Research and Development (OMERAD) at Michigan State University. This tutorial will guide you through the six steps to developing an evaluation plan for your program or curriculum. Users of this web resource should note that we have chosen to use the word "program" as an inclusive term to refer to courses, curricular components and educational programs; we will use the word "participants" to refer to students, residents, faculty or patients—that is, the recipients or learners involved in an educational program. After completing these steps you will have a plan that summarizes all the important components of your evaluation in an organized structure.

The six steps are:

STEP 1: State the Program Goal
STEP 2: State the Program Objectives
STEP 3: Write the Program Description
STEP 4: List the Program Evaluation Questions
STEP 5: List the Sources of Evaluation Data
STEP 6: Describe the Methods of Data Collection

What Is Evaluation?
When we speak of evaluation there is no universally accepted definition. For some, evaluation is another name for applied research and it embraces the traditions and values of the scientific method. Others believe evaluation has its own approach to inquiry characterized by the purpose of the evaluation (e.g. process versus outcome evaluation). Many educators distinguish the focus of the evaluation such as learner, course, curriculum and program evaluations. Not surprisingly, experts define evaluation from different perspectives:

Common to all evaluation approaches is the evaluation question itself. An evaluation may address one or more questions and they may vary in their importance or priority. Good evaluation questions suggest the source of the information needed to answer the question and the method to be used for gathering that information.

How To Use This Site
Each page provides a menu at the left containing hyperlinked menu items. Click on an item to go to that page.

At the right of each page is a Resources menu; click on an item to go to that page.

In the title bar for each step is a picture like this that indicates which step you are reading about. It is used as a navigational aid, to tell you where you are in the site. This example indicates that you are on the page for STEP 3: Program Description.

Resources Menu
Each page provides a resources menu at the right containing hyperlinked items such as examples, related websites, illustrations and explanations. The resources are context sensitive, so they will provide additional information relevant to the section of the tutorial you are viewing. Click on an item to view that resource.

Evaluation Planning Tool
The Evaluation Planning Tool that accompanies this tutorial is a table with six columns, one for each step. You can download this tool from the Resources column on every page. You may print this tool and fill it out by hand or complete and enter text into the electronic version and save it.

Click here to download the Evaluation Planning Tool template

When you are asked to write your own parts of the evaluation plan, such as a program goal or objectives, write the parts in the appropriate column of the Evaluation Planning Tool.

Examples Used in This Tutorial
We provide two examples of completed evaluation planning tools which are available in the Resources menu.

The two examples used in the tutorial were adapted from programs related to health professions education appearing as published articles. For purposes of illustration we did not attempt to incorporate all aspects of the program into the examples. If the user is interested in reading the original articles, the citations are in the bibliography.

This tutorial is based on one key assumption: that you have already developed or planned your curriculum or program. Possibly you are in the program phase or have not yet had an opportunity to implement your plan. This tutorial is not designed to teach you how to create an educational program but to guide you through a process that will provide you with a practical evaluation plan that is closely linked to your program's goals.

Some of the tutorial's steps will provide links to additional resources if you are interested in learning more about program and evaluation design. However, if your aim is to create a commonly accepted format for an evaluation, we hope our tutorial will efficiently guide you to that point.

Before You Begin
Prior to beginning the tutorial, we suggest you have any relevant documents accessible for reference, such as: written goals and objectives; descriptions of content and activities; summaries of faculty or learner strategies; identification of what products may be part of your program (e.g., a website, handbooks, training materials). Give yourself an hour to complete this tutorial.

Our strong belief is that the best evaluations are tightly linked to the program's intent; knowing what and how to evaluate is essentially based on what you hope the program will accomplish. The clearer you are regarding your program's goals and outcomes, the easier the evaluation design!

You Are Now Ready to Begin STEP 1