Before collecting data there are many things to consider such as how to do the sampling (PDF) and what sources and methods (PDF) to use. Sources of information for data collection include:
- program participants
- key informants
Methods of collecting evaluation data vary, and can include conducting surveys (e.g., pre-and-post questionnaires; end-of-session questionnaires), holding focus group sessions, or conducting interviews.
The types of data that are collected can be classified as either quantitative or qualitative data.
The qualitative method uses information that cannot easily be converted into numbers. This includes any open-ended responses on surveys, most conversational interview data, and the like. Most qualitative data are in the form of words and descriptions. Qualitative data are helpful for understanding how a participant felt about a program, what they experienced, or why a program was helpful or not.
The quantitative method uses information that can be organized as numbers. For example, participants may rank the value of a program from 1 (low value) to 5 (high value). Responses can be summed and averaged for all participants to determine how much, on average, participants valued the program. The advantage of quantitative data is that it is easy to collect, easy to analyze, and can tell you a lot about how a program is perceived.