Evaluating Engagement

Evaluating your engagement activity helps you to learn from experience (what did or did not work well), improve practice, inform future activity, demonstrate impact, and generate learning that can be shared.

How should you evaluate?

You should plan how you will evaluate your engagement activity from the beginning of your project. This will ensure that you collect relevant data for your evaluation from the outset. To develop an evaluation plan, you can follow the steps below:

  • Aims/purpose – For example, are you trying to understand a group’s experience of an issue of interest?
  • Objectives – Objectives should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time limited. An example of an objective would be to run three focus groups, each with between six and ten people from the local community.
  • Evaluation questions – What exactly do you want to know? These questions should relate to your engagement activities. Who did you reach? Did you reach the people who you wanted to? Was your engagement inclusive? What did and didn’t work well and why? • Has anything changed because of your engagement work? You may also want to think about the process of the engagement itself – Did this run to the timescales you had set yourself? Were your engagement activities resourced sufficiently?    
  • Methodology – Once you have your evaluation questions, you should then think about how you will answer these questions. Will you need facts and figures (quantitative data) such as the number of people reached by your engagement activity? Will you need narrative and descriptive data (qualitative data) to capture perspectives and context? Or will you need a mixture of both? When considering your methodology for evaluation, it is also useful to consider whether you will continually assess and reflect, or whether you will consider outcomes and impact at the end of the process. Other considerations include what time and resource you have for data analysis, who can/will participate in your evaluation, and whether you should create a baseline to measure change against.
  • Data collection – Once you have established your methodology for evaluation, you can begin data collection. Depending on whether you will evaluate your engagement activities throughout the project, or at the end, will influence at what time periods you will collect your data.    
  • Data analysis – The type of data you collect will influence your method of data analysis. If you have collected qualitative data, you may wish to analyse this by coding the data and then drawing out relevant themes (thematic analysis). Likewise, if you have collected quantitative data, you will analyse this numerically to obtain relevant figures to answer your evaluation questions.
  • Reporting – When developing your evaluation plan, think about who will be interested in your evaluation. It is important that the project team learns from the evaluation, but you may also want or need to report your findings more widely. You should think about what the evidence you have collected tells you and report your findings to relevant stakeholders accordingly.
  • See the Evaluation Report of the Mental health strategy coproduction work

Page last updated: 05 May 2023