Evaluating Your Program

Ongoing quality improvement is a hallmark of effective mentoring programs. Accurately assessing your program’s successes and ongoing challenges allows you to celebrate and build on what you do well and improve those aspects of the program that are not working. You will probably want to gather evaluation data related to both the mentoring program’s processes and outcomes. Process information lets the program staff know whether the program is being implemented as intended or whether mid-course adjustments are needed. Outcome information allows program staff to measure how well the program has achieved its short- and long-term objectives, and more specifically, to track the “extent to which program participants experience the benefits intended.”1

Some examples of process-related evaluation questions include:

Some examples of outcome-related evaluation questions include:

The ultimate success of your program depends on how well you are able to assess its effectiveness, address any weaknesses and demonstrate that it is meeting its goals and objectives. Your local college probably has a department of institutional research that could help you in designing and implementing your evaluation. Before talking to them, prepare by answering the following questions:

  1. Will you use an outside evaluator or someone from your staff to do the evaluation?
  2. What program processes would you like to measure in your evaluation?
  3. What program outcomes would you like to measure in your evaluation?
  4. What indicators of program implementation viability and volunteer fidelity, such as training hours, meeting frequency and relationship duration.
  5. What instruments (e.g. questionnaires, surveys, interviews) will your program use to collect evaluation data and measure outcomes?
  6. From which program stakeholders (e.g. mentors, students, parents, educators, local industry representatives, partner organizations) will you collect data?
  7. How will you and program stakeholders reflect on the evaluation findings and use them to improve the quality of the program?
  8. How might you use the evaluation results as a recruitment and marketing tool?

1.Outcome Measurement: What and Why—An Overview. United Way of America: Alexandria, VA, 2002.

2.Adapted from Yes, You Can: Establishing Mentoring Programs to Prepare Youth for College. US Dept of Education Partnership for Family Involvement in Education, 1998.