Year of Publication

2013

Season of Publication

Summer

Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)

Department

Education

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. College of Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Dr. Katherine L. Kasten

Second Advisor

Dr. Cheryl Fountain

Third Advisor

Dr. Warren Hodge

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Georgette Dumont

Department Chair

Dr. Jennifer J. Kane

College Dean

Dr. Larry G. Daniel

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to understand the role of and capacity for program evaluation from the perspectives of leaders in the Northeast Florida nonprofit sector. The study was a two-phased qualitative design and had three research questions related to the role of program evaluation, the capacity for program evaluation, and the influence of the relationship between providers and funders on these efforts. The first phase was a nominal group process using the Delphi survey method. The second phase involved in-depth interviews. Study participants were chosen based on specific criteria.

The Delphi phase had four rounds of surveys. Findings from the Delphi phase of the study indicated that leaders in Northeast Florida perceived there were eight distinct roles of program evaluation. The roles included assessing impact of programs, advancing organizational learning, cultivating funding collaborations, informing program management decisions, enhancing communication with multiple stakeholders, facilitating quality assurance, determining resource allocation, and validating organizational credibility. Findings regarding the essential capacity elements needed for program evaluation efforts included having sufficient time, sufficient financial resources, a positive culture, functional program evaluation designs/methods, sufficient human resources, realistic expectations from the philanthropic community, ongoing collaboration, and ongoing training. Study participants reported that these capacity elements were lacking in the Northeast Florida nonprofit sector.

Interviews produced similar findings as the Delphi survey. In particular, the use of reflective practice as a role within program evaluation efforts and as a program evaluation approach were core topics of interviews. Additional findings from the study were related to program evaluation capacity development strategies, the dynamics of the relationships between providers and funders, and the influence of these variables on the culture of the Northeast Florida nonprofit sector.