July 25, 2019Print | PDF
You’ve designed and implemented a program in your workplace. How do you know it’s working? And, more importantly, how can you prove it’s worth the time, money and energy put into it?
The Program Evaluation Certificate, offered by Wilfrid Laurier University’s Centre for Community Research Learning and Action and Office of Professional Development, is designed to help professionals across a range of industries use research methods to gauge what’s working or not and make effective, evidence-based funding proposals and plans. Through these evaluations, organizations can ensure activities align with their values, goals and vision.
“People need to be able to communicate that their program has an impact and has met their objectives, but how do you know that if you haven’t done an evaluation of the program?” says Sharmalene Mendis-Millard, coordinator and instructor for the Program Evaluation Certificate. “In our course, participants learn by doing. By the end, you will walk away with a completed evaluation plan reviewed by an expert.”
The part-time course runs from October until April and is taught both online and in person, with on-campus sessions running one evening every two weeks. The program is unique in Canada in that it’s designed for people with no prior program evaluation experience but is more extensive than a workshop for beginners. It attracts workers from a range of sectors, including government, not-for-profit, education and business.
Sarah Anderson, neighbourhood liaison at the City of Kitchener, supports residents who want to improve their neighbourhoods, whether starting a community garden or hosting a street event. Anderson took the Program Evaluation Certificate because she wanted to be able to assess the success of the city’s neighbourhood projects, even if only informally.
Her department was interested in understanding what neighbours in apartment buildings and condominiums have done to build connections within their communities. Through the course, Anderson developed a proposal for how the city could answer this question while also building new relationships within these communities. The resulting research plan will be implemented later this year.
“The course gave me the language and concepts to make the case for a community-based needs and resource assessment,” says Anderson. “That way, we make new connections in the neighbourhood and pave the way for more community-building in the future. A few of us had the same instinct to take a community-based approach, but I was able to build a framework for the idea so that it could be supported by decision-makers.”
Tanya Andrews, manager of Counselling Services at the University of Waterloo, recently completed the Program Evaluation Certificate. Andrews was interested in the certificate program to assess the effectiveness of the mental health awareness trainings offered through Campus Wellness. While the course initially seemed intimidating, Andrews says she found it easy to follow, even though she had minimal program evaluation training.
“I really appreciate that the program is catered to working professionals,” Andrews says. “There was a wide array of professions in the room, but with the focus being on evaluation rather than a specific field, it was easy to have a common language despite the differences in the projects we were working on.”
By the end of the course, Andrews had created a program evaluation proposal and the tools she would need to implement it, including surveys and focus group questions.
The next Program Evaluation Certificate runs from Oct. 2, 2019 until April 1, 2020 and is delivered through online modules and interactive in-class sessions. In-person classes are held every other Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Laurier’s Waterloo campus.
The cost of the course is $1,700 ($1,500 if you register before Sept. 1, 2019). Laurier staff, students, faculty and alumni are eligible for a 10% discount. Visit wlu.ca/pec or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to learn about sponsorship opportunities.
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