Now that you have collected and analyzed data it is time to develop recommendations and share your evaluation's findings. How you report these findings will influence the degree to which recommendations will be considered. It is therefore well worth the time and effort to think about how to best to share your evaluation’s findings.
How do I develop conclusions and recommendations?
You are likely to have generated ideas for conclusions and recommendations throughout the evaluation process.
The following resources offer suggestions for finalizing these ideas based on the evidence you collected:
- Best Practices Guide to Program Evaluation for Aquatic Educators (.pdf)
Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. (2006).
The section in Chapter 5 entitled, “Reach Coherent Conclusions from the Evidence,” discusses how to identify evidence that supports your conclusions and how to develop sound recommendations based on that information.
- Results and Recommendations
Online Evaluation Resource Library (OERL)
This table describes the elements that should be included in the “Results and Recommendations” section of your evaluation report. For each element, criteria are provided to ensure that your recommendations are reported in a fair and high-quality manner.
How should I report my results and conclusions?
Reporting results involves communicating the findings of your evaluation in a manner that makes sense to your target audience(s). Although the typical way to disseminate results is through an evaluation report, there are other means that may be more accessible and useful to a particular stakeholder group. In addition to a formal evaluation report, consider providing one or more of the following opportunities:
- Oral briefing
- Newsletter article
- Website feature
- Popular press article
- Conference presentation
- Journal article
The target audience and your goals for communicating findings should determine how results are shared.
The most common method, preparing an evaluation report, is discussed in greater depth below and can also be adapted for developing the other types of communications.
- Basics for Good Evaluation Reporting (.pdf)
University of Wisconsin Extension
This two-page PDF resource offers tips for tailoring evaluation reports to specific audiences. For example, it suggests that you have someone from your target audience review drafts of the report to help ensure it will be appropriate for that group.
- Evaluating Environmental Education (.pdf)
Stokking et al. (1996). IUCN Commission on Education and Communication.
A table in “Step 12: Writing a Report on the Evaluation and the Results and Conclusions” identifies potential stakeholder groups, reasons for distributing reports to these groups and different formats for sharing results with these audiences. For example, it suggests that a summary of results should be shared with evaluation respondents, in gratitude for their participation.
- Community Toolbox
University of Kansas
The section titled “How Do You Communicate Your Evaluation Findings?” presents a variety of relevant information and details. For example, it offers suggestions for how to share your evaluation's findings with reporters. If you think the evaluation results would be useful to wider audiences, such as the readers of a professional journal, this resource provides some points to consider for state, regional and national reporting. Far too many excellent program results go unreported to other professionals!
Plan ahead - reporting may take longer than you think!
Different audiences may need different reports
How should I organize my report?
Evaluation reports are often quite similar in what they include and how they are organized. The format and details, however, will vary depending on the audience and purpose of the report.
The following resources should help you determine what to include in the report, and how best to organize its content.
- Reporting Evaluation Results of Extension Programs (.pdf)
University of Florida, IFAS Extension
This five page PDF fact sheet offers a list and brief description of the elements that should be included in an evaluation report. It suggests that there should be a cover, title page and table of contents as well as purpose, methods, results and conclusion sections. For each of these, additional suggestions are offered. There are also sections with suggestions for presenting evaluation results orally and for sharing them with reporters.
Check out the Evaluation report template (.pdf) used by the Environmental Education & Training Partnership (EETAP). Courtesy of EETAP.
- User-Friendly Handbook for Mixed Method Evaluations (.pdf)
NFrechtling, J. and Sharp, L. (1997). National Science Foundation
Chapter 4, The Evaluation Process: Carrying Out the Study and Reporting lists and describes the main components of an evaluation report. It suggests that the following be covered 1) background, 2) evaluation study questions, 3) evaluation procedures, 4) data analysis, 5) findings, 6) conclusions and recommendations. A more detailed formal report outlines is offered as part of a table and tips are provided for the process of preparing the report and sharing findings.
- Evaluation Report Checklist (.pdf)
Miron, G. The Evaluation Center, Western Michigan University
This resource consists of a detailed checklist of what to include in an evaluation report. Because the information is presented in an Excel spreadsheet, it can be used to delegate, coordinate, and monitor progress among report contributors.
- Alignment Table for Report Components
Online Evaluation Resource Library (OERL)
This table describes the major sections of an evaluation report. For each section, the table provides a description of the content to be covered as well as criteria for ensuring that it is well-written.
How do I use graphics to illustrate results?
Graphics, such as tables, charts, and figures can be a great way to communicate information as part of your evaluation report. But which graphics are best? How can you ensure that graphics will not be confusing?
Check out the following guide for answers to these questions.
Using Graphics to Report Evaluation Results (.pdf)
Minter, E. & Michaud, M. University of Wisconsin Extension Program Development and Evaluation Unit
This PDF resource explains why you should use graphics and gives examples of different types. It clarifies when certain graphics should be used compared to others and provides specific tips for making each graphic as clear as possible. This resource also makes good use of sample graphics to illustrate its points.