4. Now What?

In this section, you will learn what to do with the results of an evaluation you’ve completed.

After completing this section, you will be able to...

  • Use your results
  • Develop evaluation questions
  • Communicate your results to important stakeholders

“Evaluation should not be conducted simply to prove that a project worked, but also to improve the way it works.”

— W. K. Kellogg Foundation1

An evaluation is only as good as it is useful—and actually used! Presenting results to various stakeholders in an appropriate manner will encourage them to use the evaluation in the way you planned. As you develop your argument, consider the audience for the evaluation. Is it a partner? Is it your immediate supervisor? The library director? Your team? The city council? You will likely have multiple audiences. Your primary audience is the audience who will directly use the answer to the question you are asking, or are the target of the argument you are building. However, they are not the only audience. A secondary audience includes people who will be affected by the evaluation conclusions, even though they are not direct decision-makers (this might include staff, partners’ staff, or library users). Your tertiary audience includes people further removed from the project but who may still be interested in the report (perhaps the general public, or librarians from other systems).2 The nature of your audiences will influence how you present your results.

“Whether or not your project goes as planned, it is important to communicate results of the project effectively to people who have the potential to extend, replicate, build on, or learn from your work.”

The Principal Investigator’s Guide 3

The point of evaluation is to obtain information that can be used constructively moving forward, so be honest. If something was less than successful, don’t try to sweep it under the rug—figure out why and what you or someone else can do about it next time. 

1: W. K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook, p. 3.

2: InformalScience.org: Evaluation Reporting and Dissemination

3: Principal Investigator’s Guide: Managing Evaluation in Informal STEM Education Projects, by R. Bonney, K. Ellenbogen, L. Goodyear, & R. Hellenga, p. 51. Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education, 2001.