clear How Can Your Project Be Evaluated?

Evaluating your project allows you to find out whether it has met its goals. Evaluation works, however, only if you decide up front what you want to evaluate and how you'll do so. The purpose of conducting an evaluation is "to answer practical questions of decision-makers and program implementors who want to know whether to continue a program, extend it to other sites, modify it, or close it down."1 When evaluating your group's performance or display, you will want to show that your project does one or all of the following:

bullet Engages the talent of local youth in promoting a key crime prevention message.
bullet Provides opportunities for youth to use and develop artistic ability.
bullet Educates and raises community members' awareness of the problems or issues that your group chose to address.
bullet Uses creative expression to transcend language and cultural barriers.

Planning a Successful Project

For more information on how to plan a successful project, see the National Youth Network's Planning a Successful Crime Prevention Project. This 28-page workbook explains the five steps of the Success Cycle:

    bullet   Assessing Your Community's Needs.
    bullet   Planning a Successful Project.
    bullet   Lining Up Resources.
    bullet   Acting on Your Plans.
    bullet   Nurturing, Monitoring, and Evaluating.

The workbook includes six worksheets for you to take notes on. You can get a copy of this planning workbook from the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, listed in the "Resources" section. Good luck!

You can evaluate your effort in two ways. First, you can assess your audience's response. Did the audience enjoy the performance? Did it understand the anticrime or antidrug message you intended to convey? Applause, encores, and positive comments in guest books are good indicators of audience enjoyment. A survey asking audience members about the theme(s) of a performance or display also can help you check on their learning. In working with children, you may want to ask simple questions to probe their understanding and see how well they are able to apply your message to their own lives.

Second, you can consider your program's effect on the group's participants. Are they more confident? Have they learned valuable information about crime and drug abuse prevention? Survey group participants and those involved in developing your performance or display; ask them how the program helped them and exactly what they learned.2

In evaluating your arts and performances program, also consider whether and how it meets the following more general crime pre-vention goals:

bullet Reduces crime or fear of crime in your community.
bullet Is cost-effective.
bullet Has a lasting impact.
bullet Attracts support and resources.
bullet Makes people feel safer and more positive about being a member of your school or community.

Learning to evaluate the things you do is a good skill, one you can apply to all aspects of your life. Enjoy your project and—Be creative!

  1. National Crime Prevention Council. What, me evaluate? Washington, DC: National Crime Prevention Council, 1986.

  2. For more information on evaluating projects, refer to Does Your Youth Program Work?, a Youth in Action Bulletin available at no charge from the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, listed in the "Resources" section.

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Youth In Action Bulletin December 1999   black   Number 11