An innovative approach to evaluation: Theory-informed, ‘expected versus actual’, evaluation of educational practice used in a public health parenting programme
Background: Evaluations of public health and education are interventions aimed at improving wellbeing needed to ensure investment in projects with the highest likelihood of patient or public benefit. Evaluations normally focus on interventions as they are delivered, with recommendations arising from participants’ feedback, outcomes and comparison with other programmes. Nevertheless, some public health tools, such as needs assessments and audits, do use ‘expected versus actual’ (EVA) comparisons.
Methodology: This research sought to evaluate the teaching methods used in a parenting programme. To do this, the teaching activities associated with different educational theories were collated into a checklist and the parenting training was analysed using this list, to identify gaps in practice. Thus, what might be expected to be seen in education delivery was compared with actual delivery.
Result: This is an innovative approach to evaluation that can be tested in other settings. Here the evaluation showed only minor gaps in the pedagogical methods used, due to the programme has run for over a decade. Nevertheless, the providers planned to make changes as a result of the exercise.
Conclusion: The EVA evaluation is a beneficial adjunct to the evaluation of wellbeing-related interventions using the ‘theory of change’ approach.
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