A Lesson in Carefully Managing Resources: A Case Study from an Evaluation of a Music Education Program

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Kristin A Hobson
Jason T Burkhardt


Background: A music education program with a goal of enhancing cognitive development of preschool-aged children enrolled in local preschools is evaluated by The Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University. The budget for the evaluation was small, and therefore presented several challenges to the evaluation team.

Purpose: Through a case study of a local education program, the authors explore the challenges and possible solutions of evaluating a program within time, budget, data, and political constraints.

Setting: The case study of a local music education program is implemented in a medium size Midwestern town.

Intervention: The local music education program is a participatory music program for preschool-aged children. The program provides a combination of music classes, performances, and parent education to all participants, with further musical opportunities for interested parents and children.

Research Design: The research and data collection portion of the evaluation was conducted using participatory strategies, and involved a management oriented approach.

Data Collection and Analysis: Data collection for years one and two (process) consisted of primarily qualitative methods, triangulated by exploratory quantitative data collection. Data collection for year three (impact) will consist of primarily quantitative methods, triangulated with results from the qualitative analysis done in years one and two.

Findings: Four factors, time, data, budget, and political, constrain the design and conduct of a local evaluation, yet, evaluators may implement multiple solutions that lessen the effect of the constraints on the evaluation.

Keywords: evaluation, evaluation constraints, RealWorld Evaluation


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Hobson, K. A., & Burkhardt, J. T. (2012). A Lesson in Carefully Managing Resources: A Case Study from an Evaluation of a Music Education Program. Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, 8(19), 8–14. Retrieved from https://journals.sfu.ca/jmde/index.php/jmde_1/article/view/354