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Approaches to Evaluation
There are multiple ways to approach the evaluation of arts and health. The choice of an evaluation approach is dependent on time, resources, stakeholder needs and the characteristics of the community with which one is working. In essence, when it comes to evaluation, form must follow function.
Here are some approaches to evaluation, which may hold some value for the field of arts and health.
Health Promotion Evaluation
Health promotion evaluation attempts to measure both observable participation effects as well as the mechanisms that underlie these changes. Health promotion evaluation focuses on:
- Formative Evaluation: This is developmental evaluation, which serves the purpose of improving and shaping a specific program, project or policy
- Process Evaluation: This looks at program activity, and aspects such as completeness, fidelity and reach
- Impact Evaluation: This is used to determine whether a program’s short-term objectives have been achieved, which can relate to anticipated changes in participants, organisations and policies
- Outcome Evaluation: This is the highest level of evaluation, where information gleaned from formative and process evaluation has the potential to redefine long-term outcomes and benefits.
A blended, yet systematic, approach to evaluation allows data to be gathered that would otherwise be lacking if only one approach was adopted. This blended approach can be adapted to become a layered framework, integrating health promotion evaluation methodology with key stakeholders of participants, organisations and the community.
|Outcome||Arts for Social Change|
(Adapted from Keating 2002 and Rosenberg 2008)
Jermyn, H 2004, The art of inclusion, Research report 35, Arts Council of England.
Keating, C 2002, Evaluating community arts and community wellbeing, Arts Victoria and VicHealth, Melbourne, Victoria.
Rosenberg, M 2008, ‘The evaluation game: determining the benefits of arts engagement on health’, Proving the practice: evidencing the effects of community arts programs on mental health, DADAA Publishing, Perth, Western Australia.
Case Study Research
Case study research is a common way to do qualitative research, but can have a quantitative component. Case studies are distinguished by the size of the bounded case, which may be one individual, a group, an entire program or an activity. Using extensive data collection with multiple sources, case studies can provide practitioners and policy makers with a better description and explanation of the functioning and experiences of a case, leading to greater understanding of issues.
Narrative enquiry examines experiences as expressed in lived and told stories of individuals. Multiple types of information may be used, including letters, diaries, journals, photographs and observation. Researchers undertaking narrative research must spend considerable time with participants gathering stories, collecting information about context, analysing content and re-storying. During the re-storying process, stories are organised into a framework or structure, with the emphasis on sequence or chronology. The researcher may also detail themes that emerge from the story through narrative analysis.
An example of narrative research is Most Significant Change, a dialogic technique that involves the collection and participatory interpretation of stories.
McDonald, L 2008, 'Under the bridges: a community narrative on the impact of DADAA's Freight Gallery', Proving the practice: evidencing the effects of community arts programs on mental health, DADAA Publishing, Perth, Western Australia.
This approach uses the process of making art as the object of enquiry, as well as the mode of investigation in order to examine and understand the experience by both researcher and participant. It seeks to understand the ways in which artistic inquiry differs from scientific understanding and needs to develop research methods and questions that arise from the unique character of the art experience.
A program logic approach to evaluation can provide shared knowledge about what works and why, linking outcomes with activities. It is a systematic and visual way to present the relationships between resources, activities and the changes or results the program hopes to achieve. The basic program logic model is a diagram of how you think your program will work.
Annabel Jackson Associates 2004, Evaluation toolkit for the voluntary and community arts in Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, pp. 13–20.
Everitt, A & Hamilton, R 2003, Arts, health and community: a study of five arts in community health projects, Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University.
Kelaher, M, Berman, N, Joubert, L, Curry, S, Jones, R, Stanley, J and Johnson, V, 2007, 'Methodological approaches to evaluating the impact of community arts on health', UNESCO Observatory E-Journal, vol. 1.
Participatory Action Research
The rationale for using Participatory Action Research (PAR) to evaluation includes opportunities for researchers to consult with a community group and for both researcher and community to learn about each other. PAR can empower communities by allowing them ownership of a project, providing feedback on final results to a community and connecting to larger social change efforts.
Most PAR employs qualitative research methods, using interviews, focus groups, life histories and participant observation. It can also use non-conventional methods, such as visual arts, storytelling, theatre and puppetry.
Kemmis, S & McTaggart, R 2008, 'Participatory action research', in Handbook of Qualitative Research, eds. NK Denzin & YS Lincoln, Sage, Thousand Oaks.
Theory-based evaluation can assist in articulating, testing and refining theories, based on a generative model of change. It can address the lack of theory in relation to arts impact research and its three main determinants of change: the individual, the artwork and the context or environment. With theory building, the definitions, meaning and value of community-based arts activity are explored using multi-methods, such as investigating existing research and interviewing key stakeholders. Other terms include Realistic Evaluation, Theory of Change Approach and Program Theory.
Anglia Ruskin/UCLan Research Team 2005, Mental health, social inclusion and the arts: developing the evidence base, Social Inclusion, London.
Galloway, S 2009, Theory-based evaluation and the social impact of the arts, Cultural Trends, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 125–48.
Jackson, MR, Harranz, J & Kabwasa-Green, F 2003, Art and culture in communities: a framework for measurement, Policy Brief No. ! of the Culture, Creativity and Communities Program, The Urban Institute, Washington DC.