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Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.

The Program Evaluation certificate will introduce you to a different evaluation approaches, evaluation designs, and the skills to apply this knowledge to your own work. Each week, you will be asked to apply your learnings to an ongoing evaluation project for a program within your organization or local community. At a one-on-one consulting session, instructors will give you detailed feedback on your project and answer any questions you have. By the end of the program, you'll walk away with everything you need to conduct a successful program evaluation.

Key Learnings

  • Developing a strong program theory and logic model.
  • Conducting effective interviews and focus groups.
  • Designing surveys.
  • Analyzing survey and interview data.
  • Effective report writing.
  • Applying findings to improve programs and services.
  • Integrating evaluation approaches into organizational learning and development.


Each unit consists of an online module and an interactive, classroom session. We recommend familiarizing yourself with the online content prior to the classroom component. 

All interactive, classroom sessions are scheduled from 4-7 p.m. at Laurier's Waterloo campus with a 15-minute break in between.  On-campus sessions take place bi-weekly. 

Unit 1: Introduction and Certificate Overview

In this first class meeting, you'll be introduced to the course, your classmates, and your instructors. We will also go through the syllabus, and discuss some case studies.

Unit 2: Types and Approaches to Evaluation

This unit will focus on how to think about evaluation in the context of organizational learning and development. You will learn how to select the right approach and type of evaluation to fit with your organization’s evaluation needs. We will also practice developing effective evaluation questions.

Unit 3: Conducting Needs Assessment and Developing Effective Evaluation and Frameworks

The purpose of needs assessment, and effective implementation techniques, will be addressed in this module. We will also explore how the results of needs assessment link to evaluation in the context of organizational development.

The second part of this module will provide you with a thorough understanding of how to develop evaluation frameworks that are effective, feasible, ethical, and that fit the needs of multiple stakeholders.

Unit 4: Effectively Communicating How Your Program Works: Creating Theories of Change

In order to effectively evaluate a program or service, it needs to be clear what that program actually is, and how it works to create positive change.

In this unit, you will learn how to effectively communicate their program’s logic by developing program theories and logic models that work. We will identify clear, immediate outcomes, as well as long-term goals for your organization or program.

Unit 5: Selecting the Evaluation Design That is Right for You

Process evaluation examines how well a program is implemented within a specific context. Are the program participants engaged and satisfied? Are staff members following the expectations of the program? Is the training working? Is the program attracting participants from the target community?

We will look closer at assessing process, implementation and feasibility of a program in this unit.

Unit 6: Improving the Quality of Your Program Through Process Evaluation

Several options for evaluation design exist (which can feel very overwhelming for those new to program evaluation). Selecting the design that is right for you requires a careful process to identify a strong research design that can answer your evaluation questions, and yet is feasible within the specific context of your organization (including available resources).

You will be introduced to the most important design options (e.g. quasi-experimental, qualitative), and specific criteria and processes to select among these designs.

Unit 7: Measuring Your Impact

Selecting the right indicators, measures and questions for your evaluation is important to ensure you are assessing the impact of your program adequately. We will cover how to select the right established measures and how to develop good questions for surveys.

Unit 8: Making Sense of Your Quantitative Data

Good statistical analysis starts with good data. A critical step toward quality data is the processing from when the data are first collected to creating the final dataset for analysis.

In this unit, we will provide important insights into and practical tools for this process. The second part of this unit will focus on basic statistical analysis that produces valid and reliable results, while being feasible for those without extensive training (or access to expensive statistical software) to do.

Unit 9: Conducting Focus Groups and Qualitative Interviews Effectively

There is an art (and science) to conducting effective focus groups and interviews to ensure you obtain accurate data. It also requires practice.

In this unit, you will have ample opportunity to develop and improve your skills in this important method of data collection.

Unit 10: Making Sense of Your Qualitative Data

We will investigate the process of qualitative data analysis, including assigning codes and identifying themes.

Unit 11: New Approaches to Evaluation and Cost-Benefit Analysis

There are some exciting new approaches appearing within the evaluation field, such as social network analysis and the use of mixed methods. These are often used to study more complex programs or processes.

We will cover the above approaches and another important topic related to program evaluation – cost-benefit analysis, which assesses the program’s impact relative to its cost.

Unit 12: Increasing the Utilization of Your Findings: Effective Report-Writing for Organizational Learning

Ensuring that the evaluation results will be used effectively to improve the quality of the program will require a solid report that integrates the evaluation within the context of the organizational learning process. This unit will provide you with helpful insights on how to do this effectively.

Unit 13: Final Review

This session serves as conclusion to the program. You will have the opportunity to share your final evaluation plan(s) with your classmates.


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