My area of interest is in criminal justice with an in-depth study of law enforcement. The three evaluations that would best work with this area of study are improvement-oriented evaluation, needs assessment, and a cost-benefit analysis. Programs and training are important in criminal justice and require evaluations to see if they will benefit officers and community members. Improvement-oriented evaluation seeks to find ways to improve a program rather than giving an evaluation on whether it works or not. It seeks the strengths and weaknesses of the program (Bachman & Schutt, 2014, p.319). Programs in criminal justice usually target certain issues such as youth violence. If there is not violence in a department’s jurisdiction, then is it really needed? A needs assessment would establish whether a program is needed or required (Bachman & Schutt, 2014). A cost-benefit analysis looks at whether the cost of a program is worth the outcome it may have.
A formative evaluation is one that assesses a program while it is being implemented. This way it can be improved before it is introduced. A good study idea would be to evaluate the D.A.R.E. program in a new school district while it is still in progress. This program teaches drug prevention (Criminal Justice Program Evaluation, n.d.). Different teaching styles could be improved to get a point across. Children learn in different ways and it would be good to evaluate if the ones they have are working and if not, then they can improve them.
Before people or a pubic organization invests in a program (providing money), they want to know if it will be effective. A summative evaluation does this. Preventing youth violence would be a good study where a summative evaluation would be best. A department would not want to invest in a program stopping youth violence if the outcome is still recidivism. A good example would be Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.). This program is intended to stop gang violence in school children before they reach a certain age (G.R.E.A.T., n.d.).
The factors that I think are most important to consider when choosing an evaluation strategy is time, cost, and impact. When someone wants to implement a program, it is usually because there is an immediate issue that needs to be resolved. It may be something that needs to be implemented right away. Departments and communities need to know if implementing a program will be worth their time and money. Choosing the right evaluation will put them down the right path. If the impact of a program is not worth the effort, then choosing the right evaluation will let them know the best course of action.
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