Friday, 25 October 2019

Designing evaluations for children and young people

As evaluation consultants, we are always designing new evaluation methods and makings sure our evaluation tools are fit for purpose.

Evaluating the experiences of children and young people is not exactly the same as evaluating adults. Questions for children and young people need to be short and very simple. You have to make the questions five to seven words long.

Let's look at an example. Sometimes we are evaluating physical health, and whether people eat healthily.

An adult question might look like;

In the last two weeks, on how many days did you exercise?
Answer options; None/ 1-3/ 4-6/ 7-9/ 10-13/ Everyday

It's not a complicated question, but this would be quite difficult for children aged 6-9 years old.

We can change this to:

It won't give us as detailed information, but there is no point in collecting information if the children and young people guess an answer or leave it blank.

We use similar questions for healthy eating:

As you can see the language is simple, the answers are simple, and we have used faces to illustrate the answer.

Then, and this is the most important part, test the question on some actual children and young people. We checked these questions with around twelve different children, ranging in ages from 5 to 9 years old. Once we knew all these children understood the questions and could answer them, we then tested it with the project we were actually evaluating.

It worked really well and we are now collecting useful data from lots of different children and young people who take part in a project with one of our clients.

To summarise: keep evaluation simple, keep it short, and make it as visual as you can if you are working with children and young people.