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Measuring the unmeasurable: Evaluations of complex programs in the Northern Territory

Guenther, John Ch., Arnott, Allan R. and Williams, Emma (2009). Measuring the unmeasurable: Evaluations of complex programs in the Northern Territory. In: NARU 2009 Public Seminar Series, Darwin, NT, 8 October 2009.

Document type: Conference Paper

IRMA ID 32880401xPUB2
Author Guenther, John Ch.
Arnott, Allan R.
Williams, Emma
Title Measuring the unmeasurable: Evaluations of complex programs in the Northern Territory
Conference Name NARU 2009 Public Seminar Series
Conference Location Darwin, NT
Conference Dates 8 October 2009
Conference Publication Title NARU 2009 Public Seminar Papers
Place of Publication Australia
Publisher NARU
Publication Year 2009
Total Pages 18
HERDC Category E2 - Conference Publication - Full written paper, non refereed proceedings (internal)
Abstract This presentation will offer a critique of the kinds of indicators used to evaluate outcomes of different types of programs and asks the question: ‘Are these indicators a true reflection of outcomes?’ The critique is based on a number of evaluations carried out by
members of the Charles Darwin University’s Social Partnerships in Learning consortium over recent years. These evaluations have included a range of social programs funded by several government and non-government organisations. Many of the programs were designed to address health and well-being, community safety, family function, education and community capacity issues. What we sometimes found is that because of the complexity of the programs, the achievement of commonly reported aims (in terms of increased school attendance, reduced violent offences, fewer domestic violence reports and fewer child protection notifications) was nigh on im possible. When this became apparent, we looked for other indicators that more closely reflected the outcomes of programs. These included measures of changed community perceptions, increased family function and improved parent-child engagement. The refrain we frequently hear in relation to these indicators is ‘yeah, but you can’t measure th at’. This presentation will respond to this criticism with some practical examples of tools that we have tried out to measure the unmeasurable.
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Created: Tue, 30 Mar 2010, 21:23:19 CST by Sarena Wegener