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
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.
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:
- 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.