Programmatic Evaluations

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A programmatic evaluation measures the effectiveness and success of natural resource and outdoor recreation programs, policies, services, or organizations, and identifies areas of potential improvement. A programmatic evaluation can be used to measure what is working, and what is not. Some of the questions, among many others, that a programmatic evaluation can answer are:
  1. What are the positive and negative outcomes of the program, service, or organization?
  2. What factors (historical, environmental, organizational, political, financial, etc.) are associated with the success or failure of the program, service, or organization to date?
  3. To what extent were the needs of all members of the stakeholder community effectively served?
  4. How can implementation be improved?
  5. How, if at all, should the goals and objectives of the program, service, or organization be revised?
  6. Relative to its cost, how valuable are the results of the program?
  7. Will the contributions of the program be sustained?
The key to a good programmatic evaluation is to evaluate the program, service, or organization from all angles. Programmatic evaluations make use of a variety of methods - including literature reviews, case studies, site visits, focus groups, personal interviews, economic analyses, and quantitative surveys - to ensure a thorough external and internal review of the program, service, or organization. Programmatic evaluations can include any or all of these methods, depending on the scope and focus of the study.
Responsive Management Methodology
The general strategy employed by Responsive Management to conduct programmatic evaluations is to couple both internal evaluations, an "inside-out" approach, with external evaluations, an "outside-in" approach. Assessment from the "inside-out" means an organization takes a detailed look at where it wants to go as an organization, sets realistic goals and measurable objectives, evaluates its mission, and undertakes the job of better understanding the organization's internal attitudes, values, and vision for the future. Assessment from the "outside-in" means an organization gains a better understanding of and working relationship with its various constituents and the general public by learning the opinions, attitudes, and program priorities of those external constituents toward natural resources and outdoor recreation. A thorough understanding of an organization's internal workings placed within the proper context of its external environment makes for the most informed approach to creating programmatic policies and strategies for the future.
There are various methodologies used to conduct programmatic evaluations that target both "inside-out" evaluations and "outside-in" evaluations. An "inside-out" evaluation may include employee focus groups and/or quantitative mail or telephone surveys of employees. Employee focus groups and quantitative surveys garner feedback from the "inside-out" about employees' attitudes toward agency and organization program priorities and needed future directions. By learning the perceptions and attitudes of employees, natural resource agencies and outdoor recreation organizations identify areas of high effectiveness as well as gain insight into those program areas that need growth and improvement. Through an "inside-out" evaluation, employees are given valuable input into their own task evaluations and are allowed to become active participants in the direction of the organization.
An "outside-in" evaluation can include focus groups with stakeholders and/or the general population and/or quantitative mail or telephone surveys of stakeholders and/or the general population. Case studies and economic analyses can also be performed. For a general population survey, telephones are the preferred sampling medium because nearly all persons have access to a telephone, and telephone surveys elicit higher response rates and produce a more representative sample than do general population mail surveys. The goal of the "outside-in" evaluation is to gain an understanding of the attitudes of external constituents toward the natural resource agency or outdoor recreation organization and the values they place on natural resources and outdoor recreation. By learning the attitudes and values that external constituents hold toward natural resources and outdoor recreation opportunities, natural resource and outdoor recreation agencies and organizations can successfully design and implement programs, resource management plans, and conservation efforts that will enjoy broad public support. With today's tight budget constraints, the need for broad public support for natural resource and conservation efforts is critical. Guided by the knowledge of the program priorities that the public values along with the knowledge of the type of messages that resonate with the public, natural resource and outdoor recreation agencies and organizations can effectively lobby public support and improve constituent relationships.
The knowledge gained from a thorough evaluation of both internal and external constituents provides natural resource and outdoor recreation agencies and organizations with valuable knowledge to improve programs and to build strong partnerships. Awareness of the program priorities of employees and the general population produces long-term benefits to natural resource and outdoor recreation organizations and facilitates the development of plans that address important program priorities.
Responsive Management Experience
Responsive Management has extensive experience in evaluation of natural resource and outdoor recreation programs and the use of quantitative and qualitative research on natural resource and outdoor recreation issues. Responsive Management has conducted almost 1,000 quantitative and qualitative projects over the past 18 years. Clients include the federal natural resource and land management agencies, most state fish and wildlife agencies, state departments of natural resources, environmental protection agencies, state park agencies, tourism boards, as well as most of the major conservation and sportsmen's organizations. Many of the nation's top universities use Responsive Management for data collection because they recognize the quality of Responsive Management's data services. Because Responsive Management specializes in researching only natural resource and outdoor recreation issues, our senior research staff and research associates conduct research only on these topics and understand the nuances involved in conducting such research.

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RM Conducts:
Telephone Surveys
Mail Surveys
Focus Groups
Personal Interviews
Park/Outdoor Recreation Intercepts
Web-Based Surveys
Needs Assessments
Programmatic Evaluations
Literature Reviews
Data Collection for Universities and Researchers
RM Develops:
Marketing Plans
Communications Plans
Business Plans
Policy Analysis
Public Relations Plans

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