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Program Development > Program Reviews

Program Reviews

Background of Program Evaluation

  • Programming historically emerged as a response to changes and breakdowns of past social structures that routinely afforded individual, developmental and social support mechanisms (e.g. extended family, initiatory and mentoring systems implicit in vocational pursuits, religious and pastoral groups etc).
  • Programming systematically evolved from general support mechanisms (social/developmental) into more specific and individual client-needs focus (e.g. targeted issues like depression, parenting skills, stress and time management etc).
  • Programming became more scientific/clinical rather than social/developmental as limited resources began to be postured at crisis/ambulance phases as opposed to preventative junctures.
  • The explosion in research outcomes in areas of human behaviour and development created the movement to the 'professionalisation' of programming (i.e. became more and more the province of educated specialists rather than the function of community leaders, elders or wise men).
  • Within the scientific disciplines themselves, a movement occurred away from strict behavioural approaches to what is generally known as 'cognitive-behavioural' methods and even more recently into the areas of "emotional processing"; (hence the advent of the "emotional intelligence" literature, recognising the three (3) core adaptive human skills of monitoring, naming/communicating and pro-socially processing of internal emotional states).
  • Most probably, concurrent with the advent of the women's movement, gender issues in programming approaches began to evolve; i.e. initially on a platform of equity and social justice but more recently (say last 10 years) based on an understanding that the core adaptive processes were commonly experienced, enacted and valued differentially between males and females.
  • The more recent history of programming has demonstrated the efficacy of gender-based design, targeted content, delivery and evaluation methods that appropriately match client needs with program services.

The Problem

PBI recognises that otherwise deserving programs go begging if explicit protocols to protect their integrity are not in place or not maintained. The history of great ideas that didn't "get a gurnsey" or worthy initiatives that became systematically watered down and finally ineffective; is legend in the field of programming.

Credible programs invest in protocols that enable the long-term tenure and effectiveness of their operation. Unfortunately, the passage of time can often witness the degeneration of start-up enthusiasm, resources and expertise; creating real questions about program effectiveness and deservedness for funding etc. Simply collecting positive client feedback (though important), is not enough to argue the case for program survival. PBI acknowledges that the technology (and often the will) associated with program evaluation, is rarely held by actual program deliverers or even administrators. Objective analysis of a program's operation by an outside party is the most defensible form of evaluation.

Our Approach

PBI offers such a service, that can be tailored to client needs in terms of breadth, depth and reporting. The following represents a "template" routinely used by PBI to evaluate programs for clients. It is offerred to particularly illustrate those areas and issues that have been shown to relate not only to program impact, but also to program survival.