PUAD 661: Foundations of Program Evaluation

While significant resources are used to evaluate policies and programs, not all evaluations successfully determine whether a policy or program works. This course will teach you how to distinguish high quality from low quality evaluations so you can critically consume evaluation studies. You will learn how to conduct and design evaluations, and how to employ tools that measure whether programs and policies have achieved their objectives.

This course introduces you to a variety of research designs and related methodological tools useful for evaluating the need for a program or policy, its implementation, and its impact on key outcomes. You will learn how organizational, programmatic, and political factors can influence evaluation. The class examines policies and programs in a broad range of areas, including health, criminal justice, education, welfare and poverty.

This course was developed by Associate Professor Alison Jacknowitz, who also serves as the Chair of the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Professor Jacknowitz has won awards from American University for Outstanding Teaching in a Full-Time Appointment and for Innovative Use of Technology in Teaching. Her research on issues related to poverty, the elderly, children and families has been funded by several major governmental and academic institutions, including Feeding America, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The class will require and reinforce a basic understanding of regression analysis. You will apply concepts taught in PUAD 660: Quantitative Methods.

Course objectives:

  • Learn to critique the validity of evaluation studies
  • Write evaluation questions and corresponding hypotheses 
  • Develop a research design to answer an impact evaluation question 
  • Create a data collection plan, including questionnaire development 
  • Recognize how organizational, programmatic, and political factors can influence evaluation

Topics covered include:

  • Overview of program evaluation
  • Data and regression analysis for program evaluation
  • Validity
  • Evaluation of program theory and logic models
  • Randomized field experiments
  • Quasi-experiments
  • Non-experiments and process evaluation 
  • Survey methods 

Learn more today. Call us at 855-725-7614 to speak to an admissions representative, or request more information here.