Playgroups evaluation guide
This guide aims to encourage consistency in the evaluation of playgroups. However, due to the diversity of playgroup offerings and the variety of intended outcomes for playgroups, this evaluation guide does not propose one singular evaluation tool or methodology. It outlines the key steps and considerations in planning a playgroup evaluation, including evaluation design, selecting outcomes to measure and data collection methods.
Playgroups are flexible and adaptable service offerings that aim to cater to the diverse needs of the participants attending them and the communities in which they are run. There is wide variation in both how they are run and who they are run for across Australia and, as a result, there are inconsistencies in how they are understood and evaluated. This evaluation guide is designed to be read in conjunction with:
- Principles for high quality playgroups: examples from research and the Playgroup Principles, which articulates the key foundational principles that underpin high quality, effective playgroups;
- the Supported and community playgroup program logics, outlining the theory of change underpinning playgroups and the core intended outcomes of playgroups; and
- the Playgroups outcomes measurement matrix, designed to assist you in choosing an appropriate, valid and reliable measurement tool.
Along with these other resources, the evaluation guide aims to encourage consistency in how playgroups are planned, operated and evaluated, and consequently strengthen and build upon the current limited evidence base underpinning playgroups.
Due to the diversity of playgroup offerings and the variety of intended outcomes for playgroups across the levels of community, family, parents/carers and children, this evaluation guide does not propose one singular evaluation tool or methodology. The focus instead is on planning for a strong evaluation design that has the flexibility and elasticity to cater to the variability of playgroups (Dadich & Spooner, 2008), reflecting the differences in style, operation and the contexts within which they operate. It is intended, however, to bring a level of consistency to the evaluation of playgroups in order to build an evidence base to support their effectiveness.
Authors and Acknowledgements
The authors wish to acknowledge the valuable contributions of all those who participated in the development of the playgroup evaluation resources through the workshops, focus groups and online survey. The authors would also like to thank Playgroup Australia for their support, all those who provided feedback on the playgroup evaluation resources, Jessica Smart, Senior Research Officer at the Australian Institute of Family Studies for her contribution, and Elly Robinson, Executive Manager, Practice Evidence and Engagement at the Australian Institute of Family studies for her knowledge and guidance.
Featured image: © GettyImages/FatCamera
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