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It is only through evaluation that value exists.

– Friedrich Nietzsche

How do you know if your shared site is meeting the goals and objectives you identified in your Logic Model?

What impact is intergenerational programming having on participating children, older adults, and families?

Which activities or programs are most effective in promoting intergenerational relationships?

What are the greatest successes and challenges you have experienced?

An evaluation of a shared site involves the systematic gathering of data in order to determine if objectives are being met, and measure the impact of your programs and services on participants, families, and the community. Evaluation is critical to your short-term success and long-term sustainability. It can help you:

  • Improve the functioning of your shared site by identifying challenges that need to be addressed and successes you want to repeat.
  • Demonstrate the value of intergenerational interaction to administrators, partners, and the wider community.
  • Acquire additional funding and meet reporting requirements of funders
  • Market your program and services
  • Enhance sustainability
  • Build capacity to respond to new opportunities and challenges
  • Plan for the future
  • Contribute to the intergenerational field

Many shared sites, however, don’t engage in program assessment at all or they conduct very limited evaluations. This may be due to a lack of expertise, time, and/or financial resources. Depending on the size and scope of your evaluation, it may be helpful to hire an external evaluator to design, conduct, and/or analyze the data. Sometimes it is possible to find a student or faculty member at a local university to work pro bono or for a reduced fee.

Note: Before determining the kind of evaluation you want to conduct, it is important to develop ways to monitor what is happening at your site. Monitoring is a project management tool that involves establishing procedures to gather and record information about day-to-day functioning (e.g., timing of programs, staff involvement, number of participants). It is an ongoing process.

8.1 Types of Evaluation

What do you want to assess and when? Are you interested in examining the impact of your overall shared site on participants, the efficacy of specific program components, and/or the success of various activities or use of best practices?

There are various types of evaluation, all of which can help you plan, implement, and assess the effectiveness of your shared site.

Providence Mount St. Vincent
Proactive Evaluation 

This form takes place before a program is designed. Findings can help planners make decisions about what type of services and programs are needed. A community needs assessment is an example of a proactive evaluation.

Process Evaluation

Process evaluation is used to document the implementation of your activities/programs. It can aid in understanding the relationship between specific program elements and program outcomes.  Once you have opened your shared site, you can start tracking participation and monitoring progress toward your goals. A process evaluation is done periodically to measure the success of your strategies in reaching your objectives. It requires the identification of specific process indicators that will help you determine whether your strategies are being implemented as planned.

You may want to explore:

  • Level of participation and characteristics of attendees
  • Level of satisfaction among staff, older adults, and children
  • Extent to which best practices are being used
  • Barriers to implementation
  • Nature of the intergenerational interaction and relationships
  • Relationship between specific program elements and program outcomes (e.g., children’s confidence reading out loud or older adults’ physical activity)

Here are some questions you might ask during a process evaluation:

Intergenerational Practice Evaluation Tool

One of the areas you may want to assess is the extent to which staff are using best practices in the implementation of intergenerational activities. The Intergenerational Practice Evaluation Tool was developed by Dr. Shannon Jarrott in 2019 for Generations United. There are two parts to this tool: one that measures the use of best practices in activity planning and implementation; and another that focuses on progress toward goals. Program leaders may find that parts are useful at different times. For example, a group new to program evaluation might prefer to start with Part 2, which allows for open-ended identification of goals and documentation of progress towards those goals. After some time, they might incorporate Part 1 to gather more specific practice and outcome details. Download a print-ready version of the Intergenerational Practice Evaluation Tool

For a fuller description, go to Intergenerational Evaluation Toolkit pages 5-18.

Outcome Evaluation

An outcome evaluation measures the impact of a program and addresses crucial questions about program effectiveness by analyzing its immediate results and long-term impact. Typical outcome data measures include:

  • Increases in knowledge
  • Changes in attitudes or values
  • Modification of behaviors
  • Improvement in conditions
  • Increase in the number of supportive relationships participants have

To evaluate outcomes, you will need to measure the degree to which you achieved your desired results. Here are some examples:

For children:

  • Improvements in cognitive functioning (e.g., expressing feelings, problem-solving, reflection)
  • Improvements in socioemotional development (e.g., ability to cooperate, communicate, engage with others, and express empathy; level of confidence; feelings of security)
  • Improvements in physical abilities (e.g., fine and gross motor skills, eye-hand coordination, sensory development)

Our students’ understanding of respect takes on a whole new meaning when they interact with our grandmas and grandpas. They also learn tolerance and acceptance of physical differences when they get to know a resident who carries an oxygen tank or who has difficulty speaking.”

— Suzanne Lair, Jenks School District

For older adults:

  • Improvements in cognitive functioning (e.g., attention to detail, decision-making, problem-solving)
  • Improvements in socioemotional development (e.g., life satisfaction, mood, self-confidence, independence, loneliness)
  • Improvements in physical abilities (e.g., range of motion, alertness, eye-hand coordination)

For families and caregivers:

  • Reduced stress
  • Increased confidence in the quality of services provided to children or older adults
  • Increased awareness of the value of intergenerational relationships

For staff and administrators:

  • Improvements in job performance (e.g., use of evidence-based practices)
  • Improved job satisfaction (e.g., higher retention)
  • Greater cost-efficiency (e.g., lower turnover, shared expenses across departments or organizations)

For the wider community:

  • Increased public awareness of the benefits of connecting children and older adults under one roof
  • Increased visibility of your intergenerational shared site in the community

The Intergenerational Evaluation Toolkit includes a chart (LINK TO PDF OF CHART) listing some outcome measures for youth and older adults and instruments to measure those outcomes. These same measures can be used as a pre-test before you begin a longer-term series of activities and as a post-test after your program has concluded in order to assess the impact of the program. You do not need to use every measure; rather select ones that best reflect your reasons for providing intergenerational programming. It is best not to measure impact after a single event, aside from conducting a satisfaction survey. Creators of the instruments typically recommend a determined period of time should pass between measurements.

For more information on the specific instruments, go to Intergenerational Evaluation Toolkit pages 27-44.