URBS 4/513—Urban Program Evaluation

Term: Spring, 2011

Instructor: Tony Filipovitch, 106 Morris Hall, 507-389-5035, 507-388-2264 (home)

Office Hours: My office hours are posted here.  I am available in my office at those times (or other times by appointment). I also check my e-mail daily (usually several times during the day), and have an answering machine on both my home and office phone. There is no reason to flounder around, unsure of what “he wants” or confused about what you are doing; and even if everything is going fine with the coursework, there is more to learning than completing the assignments. I encourage you to visit me, in person or at a distance by phone or e-mail, many times during the course.


Wholey, Hatry & Newcomer. 2010. Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Course Objectives:

The purpose of this course is to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the purposes and processes for gauging the quality, value, or importance of projects and programs.

By the end of the term you will be able to:

1.      Identify the appropriate criteria for evaluation & assessment

2.      Select the most important criteria from among competing measures

3.      Draw explicit evaluative conclusions

4.      Answer fundamental evaluation questions for a client

5.      Evaluate the quality, value, and importance of an evaluation report and the process behind it.

In addition to the specific course outcomes, there are three additional outcomes that are common to most, if not all, courses at MSU:

1.      Develop your creative and critical thinking powers in addressing problems and opportunities;

2.      Develop personal communication skills, both oral and (especially in this course) written;

3.      Improve your ability to work and interact with others in a team approach.




Students are expected to read and understand the readings assigned for each unit. You will demonstrate how well you have understood the readings through online discussions and regular projects.

Since we do not meet as a class, the closest thing we have to this is the discussion forums on D2L. I will pose questions to start out the discussion, and I will monitor (but may or may not respond) the discussion. The discussions will be voluntary (non-graded), but they will provide an opportunity to explore your thinking on points in the text that are not as clear as you’d like, or to engage your classmates in ways to apply what you are learning. While I will not track whether or not you read all of the postings, I strongly encourage it. You have as much to learn from each other as from me.

There is an etiquette to online discussion. I want you to engage in open, frank dialogue; but I also expect you to be respectful of each other. Comments that are harmful, abusive, offensive, or vulgar will not be tolerated. If I sense any problems, I will intervene. Should you feel intimidated or not respected, please contact me so we can consider how to proceed. A few hints:

        Re-read your messages before you send them—once it is sent, you are committed.

        Never assume that an e-mail is confidential; they are easily copied and forwarded to others.

        Also, be careful with humor; absent body language and other contextual clues, it can easily be misinterpreted.


Written Assignments:

There will be two types of writing assignments, although they will cover the same material:

  • Each week, you will apply the reading and the discussion for the week to your evaluation project. You must e-mail your assignment to me by 6 PM on Wednesday of the week it is due. These assignments will be scored on a simple 0-3 scale, where “0” is “nothing submitted” and 3 is “complete and clear grasp of the concept.”
  • By the last week of class, you must combine your various assignments into a unified evaluation plan (no more than 10 pages). This project will be assessed based on completeness (are all the elements present?), feasibility (could it be accomplished?), and usefulness (will it answer the evaluation question?).


There will be 3 tests for the course, one for each of the main sections of the book. The tests will be open-book, multiple-choice in form, and timed.

Graduate Students

In to the course requirements, graduate students will be expected to apply their skills to multiple projects (as specified in the project assignments) where undergraduates will be able to select a single one among the projects.


Course Calendar

Due date







Choose a project


Evaluation Planning & Design




Planning the evaluation

Ch. 1 & 2



Logic models in evaluation

Ch. 3



Exploratory vs. Outcomes Evaluation

Ch. 4 & 5



Comparison, Randomized & Case Study design

Ch. 6-8



Management—Recruitment & Multisite Issues

Ch. 9 & 10



Data Collection Procedures




“Secondary” data—Agency Records & Surveys

Ch. 11 & 12

Test 1


Observational data—Trained Observers, Field Data & Internet

Ch. 13-15



Break Week!



Interviews—Structured, Focus Groups, Stories

Ch. 16-18



Data Analysis




Qualitative Analysis

Ch. 19

Test 2


Statistical Analysis

Ch. 20



Cost-Benefit Analysis

Ch. 21




Ch. 22



Use of Evaluation




Reporting—Pitfalls, Recommendations & Writing

Ch. 23-25

Test 3


Politics & Trends

Ch. 27 & 28



Final class date—Evaluation Design & course evaluation due


Course Expectations:

Are You Ready for an Online Course?

Online learning is different from face-to-face. The mix of skills is different, and sometimes students who do well in face-to-face classes do not do well online. Click here for more information.

Attendance & Class Participation:

It is your responsibility to post your responses and engage in other online class activities in a timely fashion.  I expect all the work for each week to be posted by 6 PM on the Wednesday listed. If there is an emergency which requires you to be away from your computer, please contact me immediately. Loss of computer connection or network services are not an excuse for not getting work submitted on time (if you lose your connection, go to another location to do your work—a public library, the campus computer center, a friend’s computer, etc.) You can get help with technical problems from the MSUM computer help desk at help@mnsu.edu or go the 3rd floor of the Library.  You are paying for this class—make sure to get your “money’s worth.”  Most importantly, this is an excellent foundation of knowledge for future activities, and it is a chance for you to learn, teach, and grow with others.


Weekly assignments (12 @ 3pts) 36

Evaluation plan 19

Tests (3 @ 15 pts) 45


The final grade may be based on a curve, but students can expect at least an A if they achieve 90, a B with 80, etc.

Other Matters:

All assignments are due on the assigned date.

Written reports are expected to be free of grammatical, spelling, and content errors.  They should be submitted in typewritten, standard formats (APA, MLA, URSI Style Sheets). You must familiarize yourself with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy. I encourage you to draw on the ideas of others—but you must also identify when you do so (you gain “brownie points” for citing the work of others!). Plagiarism is a serious breach of academic behavior and will result in an F for the course.

I will help you in whatever manner humanly possible.  However, once the semester is over, there is not a great deal I can do.  If there is something that you don’t understand, are having problems with, or need help on, please get in touch with me as early as possible.

Every attempt will be made to accommodate qualified students with disabilities.  If you area student with a documented disability, please contact us as early in the semester as possible to discuss the necessary accommodations, and/or contact the Disability Services Office at 507-389-2825 (V) or 1-800-627-3529 (MRS/TTY).




2002 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 6 January 11