14. Types of "evaluation" methods

How to measure the creative interventions impact and strategies on your business

Evaluation methods of creative intervention include:  

  • monitoring and audit to assess how the creative intervention is proceeding in relation to established targets  

  • formative and process evaluations, which take place during the interventions with the aim of improving practice 
  • outcomes evaluation, which takes place at the end of the creative intervention to establish whether it has met its aims and objectives and to assess its effects or impacts on participants  

There are different ways to deign evaluation tools.  

Quantitative evaluation can be used both for monitoring the delivery and capturing measurable outcomes of the creative interventions. More commonly, evaluation may involve quasi-experimental designs using pre-and post-testing of participants, individually or in groups.  

Qualitative evaluation using interviews, focus groups and observation can help to capture participants’ experience of the creative interventions. 

Participatory action research (PAR) covers a range of methods. It places participants at the centre of the process as they work closely with evaluators to design, implement and report evaluation. This allows understanding of impacts of the creative interventions to develop through dialogue and not in response to themes and outcomes that are pre-determined by evaluators, employers or commissioners. 

Case studies are often presented to highlight participants’ stories of the impact of the creative interventions. A case can be a project, organisation, setting or an individual person and can use a range of methods but most often they draw on qualitative data.  

However, case studies are not to be confused with anecdotal reporting and advocacy, but can contribute to high quality evaluation when used rigorously as they can provide carefully selected, powerful testimony as well as rich descriptions of creative interventions activities, processes and experiences. They can be strengthened by drawing on good research practice including sampling and case selection, data analysis and ethics.  

Creative and arts-based methods using techniques such as photography, film, visual arts, poetry, creative writing, music, drama and dance can be used to support evaluation. The creative interventions often produce outputs – artworks and artefacts that may inform understanding of project impacts. These can be effective for uncovering hidden perspectives, adding empathic power and strengthening participants’ voices. They are also used in dissemination to make evaluation and research findings accessible to audiences beyond traditional academia or policy making circles.  

Economic evaluation can be used to capture benefits and savings from using creative and art-based approaches within organisations. Formal approaches such as cost benefit analysis or evaluation of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) have not been widely used to date. More commonly, social return on investment (SROI) is used to project forward the costs and impacts that would occur if an intervention did or did not take place (SROI Network, 2009). 

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