Evaluating the outcome of a training programme is usually done at the end of a major project cycle, such as after one, two, or three years. These evaluations are often performed by a team that can spend the time to collect data, make judgments, and propose recommendations for future action.
In training projects, all operations and issues that contribute to planning and implentation of a project can be evaluated. This can include many items, such as, the effectiveness of the training methods and materials used; the relevance of the training content to the backgrounds of the trainees; the knowledge, attitudes and skills gained by the trainees; the types of health services delivered by the healers; changes in health behaviors of community members; and the amount and type of collaboration between the THPs and the health agency staff.
There are three ways to conduct training evaluations:
• Internal evaluations
Internal evaluations are performed with staff members of the project and the agency that administers the project. They have the advantages of using existing staff who are more readily available, and the costs are less since outside consultants do not need to be employed. The main disadvantage is that an internal evaluation is not as objective; internal staff members usually become so involved with carrying out the project that they are unable to be impartial and objective about identifying difficulties and problems within their own activities.
• External evaluations
These evaluations are performed with consultants or other experts brought in from outside the agency. External evaluations are more objective and impartial; outside consultants do not have a personal interest in the findings and outcomes of the study.
They also may be more experienced in using evaluation techniques, such as obtaining relevant data to asure success in reaching project objectives, identifying problems and difficulties, and making recommendations for future actions.
• A combination of internal and external evaluation
A third type of evaluation combines elements of the first two, using a team composed of project staff members and outside consultants. This type of evaluation has many advantages. For one, local staff, working closely with outside consultants, can facilitate collection of the data from THPs and community members. And local staff who work on an evaluation team with outside consultants have the opportunity to develop better evaluation skills.
One of the greatest advantages of a combined external and internal evaluation is that it lends itself to a participatory type of evaluation that includes all groups involved.