Utilization-Focused Evaluation: Turn Insights into Action


Utilization-Focused Evaluation: Turn Insights into Action

Utilization-focused evaluation (UFE) is the RED team’s main evaluation framework. We care about helping our clients reach their goals, so it is important to us to provide insights that empower them to do their best work. So, what is utilization-focused evaluation? The theory of utilization-focused evaluation (UFE) was coined by Michael Quinn Patton, and detailed explanations are available here and here. Rather than reiterate the theory, though, I want to share with you what UFE looks like in actual practice, as well as provide some tips for how you can incorporate the concept in your own work.

For us, a project becomes a success when our clients use the insights from their evaluation. This utilization can take many different forms. For example, a client might restructure the way they plan and deliver their services after our process evaluation identifies a bottleneck in their procedures that was slowing down their work. Or perhaps a client expands the area in which they can deliver their services because they win over more shareholders by communicating the positive results of our outcome evaluation – in other words, providing evidence that their services make a difference. 

Conducting UFE means prioritizing the experience and the voice of your client at every step in the process to maximize their ability to use the evaluation. Here are some tips:

Any time you work hard on something, it does not feel good to think it may just get filed away, unappreciated by human eyes. With these tips, you can help your evaluation to jump off the shelf and truly make a difference.

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Contributed By Joanna Sullivan

Joanna Sullivan is an Associate Researcher for the Research, Evaluation & Dissemination Department at the Center for Educational Opportunity Programs. She currently manages the data collection processes and conducts the formative and summative evaluations of several of CEOP’s federally funded college access programs, including GEAR UP and Talent Search.

Follow @CEOPmedia on Twitter to learn more about how our Research, Evaluation, and Dissemination team leverages data and strategic dissemination to improve program outcomes while improving the visibility of college access programs.