How to do a Qualitative Evaluation
A Qualitative Evaluation
The qualitative evaluation is not very different from planning a quantitative evaluation – see Step by Step guide to Impact Evaluation lesson.
- Decide the key impacts or outcomes you want to assess- the ones important for the project/ participants and donors. They may be the outcomes related to the objectives of the project and will be driven by the Theory of Change. See Theory of Change: understanding inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and impact
- You may have produced a logical framework and decided on the M&E plan in some detail. See Logframes or logical framework -what is it?
- Decide on Indicators to use, if you are able to include recognised indicators, or you develop your own. See resources on Indicators
- For a qualitative assessment there will probably not be indicators as such- most indicators need quantitative data
- A baseline assessment if possible so you can tell the difference over time. If the project has already started, a new group or village joining the project can act as baseline
- This might be asking people to compare now with before the project started
- A comparison group if possible – ie those with and without the project activities
- This might be also talking to people who did not take part in the project
- A representative sample of people or farms etc – do not go for the easiest to approach group or the nearest village or the most enthusiastic participants (see lesson on sampling).
- Seasonal considerations are important so you measure the same thing at the same time of year (e.g. harvest data, consumption of foods)
- Decide who to interview based on the knowledge they have on the subject
- Work out a sample size and sampling plan
- For qualitative data you can employ ‘sampling to redundancy’ which means that you continue to ask a particular question until no additional information is added by asking more…. the pattern to the answers emerges.
- Decide how to analyse and report the data
- There are many ways to analyse qualitative data, and some of these require special software and a complex process. However, the most straightforward way is to enter the data from all your interviews into a spreadsheet so all the answers to questions are arranged together. You can then see what the trends are. Another method would be to work in a small group – read through the answers to each question in turn and draw your conclusions. It does not have to be an onerous task!
- Make sure there is a plan to ensure that recommendations are implemented
- Recommendations for the project will emerge from the answers to your questions. Make sure these are written out clearly and each one directed to whoever is responsible for implementing the change.
- A sharing plan so others can benefit (Community, Project staff, Funders, Research community)
- A report of your findings and recommendations can be drawn up and shared with interested parties. Depending who it is this could be shared in a meeting or a written report – or even a whatsapp message if that is appropriate.