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Welcome to the e-learning lesson on Creating and Implementing a Data Collection Plan. Data collection is a crucial step in the process of measuring program outcomes. By measuring outcomes, an organization can better recognize the effectiveness and value of its programs, and pinpoint where changes or improvements need to be made. Before collecting data, your organization should have a solid understanding of the purpose of the program you wish to evaluate. You should have a working logic model that identifies your desired outcomes, the resources and activities necessary to accomplish these outcomes, and a detailed list of the specific measures you will take to implement them. Once this piece is complete, you can begin gathering relevant data through surveys, interviews, focus groups, or other methods.

Data collection happens before analysis and reporting.

Valid and reliable data is the backbone of program analysis.  Collecting this data, however, is just one step in the greater process of measuring outcomes.  The five steps include:

  1. Identify outcomes and develop performance measures.
  2. Create and implement a data collection plan (discussed in this lesson).
  3. Analyze the data.
  4. Communicate the results.
  5. Reflect, learn, and do it again.

This lesson will illustrate effective options and techniques for data collection.

At the end of this lesson, you will be able to understand how to plan for and implement data collection for a specific program; identify the most appropriate and useful data collection methods for your purposes; and manage and ensure the integrity of the data you collect.