Analyze and Interpret Your Evaluation Data
The next step in your evaluation is to organize, analyze, and interpret your data so that you are able to use the results to make decisions and improve your program.
Organize - You will need to organize or “clean” your data to make sure that data are ready to analyze.
Analyze - Quantitative analysis includes things like tallying responses, counting program activities, or calculating changes in health outcomes. Qualitative analysis includes things like looking systematically at the stories people shared with you in interviews or survey questions where people wrote in their answers.
Interpret & Draw Conclusions - What is the analysis telling you about your program? Sometimes it’s useful to compare your data with other available data to better understand results. For example, it can be useful to compare the change you see in health behavior in your participants with existing data about similar changes across a bigger population to understand how similar or different they may be.
Why is Data Interpretation Important?
Calculating numbers or identifying themes is an important first step, but equally important is how you draw conclusions from those data. You can look at data through many different lenses and each view could change your idea of what the results mean for your program.
Refer back to the original purpose of the evaluation and the questions you outlined in your plan to help you determine what the data mean for your program.
Be sure to involve stakeholders in this work to help you understand the data's significance and to justify conclusions. When stakeholders agree on conclusions, they will be more inclined to act on the results.
How Do You Analyze and Interpret Your Data?
Data analysis and interpretation can seem complicated, but there are straightforward steps and guidelines for the process. The key is to keep your evaluation plan front and center during your analysis process to stay focused on the questions you are trying to answer.