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Conduct Formative Research
Gather information that will help you to design and refine your program by conducting interviews, holding focus groups, or pilot testing your program. Before you begin using any of these techniques, be sure to think about how you will use the information gathered and what you will need to know in order for the information to design your program.
- If you want to create a program working with school-aged children diagnosed with cancer, then consider conducting interviews with the school principal or other key school professionals.
- Alternatively, if you want to create a new educational piece for healthcare providers to share with brain tumor survivors, then consider conducting multiple focus groups--one with brain tumor survivors and one with healthcare providers who serve this population.
- If you want include a new component to an existing program, then consider doing this initially by using a pilot test to add one new element at a time.
- Finally, you may want to consider using these techniques together as well to gather all of information you need at the beginning and throughout your program implementation.
1. Conduct interviews
- Interviews can be an effective way to get information from your target audience. You may select to conduct interviews with key individuals, such as a survivor from a particular population, to help create your program.
- Develop a set of questions that you will ask before you hold the interview so you can ensure you know what you will discuss.
2. Hold a focus group
- Focus groups can be an effective way to get information from your target audience about your overall program concept, and specifics like proposed messaging and outreach strategies.
- Focus groups are often used for pre-testing before a program is finalized or launched.
- Characteristics of a successful focus group include:
- No more than 6-8 participants
- A group that represents multiple perspectives and stakeholders
- A skilled moderator who can facilitate a focused discussion
- A moderator's guide containing questions that will provide you with specific information and the ability to draw conclusions about program design from participant responses.
3. Conduct a pilot test
- Pilot tests allow you to test a version, or multiple versions, or a program or product. Pilot tests are essentially a limited roll-out or small scale implementation of your program to a selected audience for testing.
- Pilot tests may also be part of your implementation steps.
- Characteristics of a successful pilot test include:
- A well developed program that can be reviewed for specific refinements.
- A sampling from your target audience that does not have prior knowledge of your program/product.
CDC Evaluation Working Group, use this to learn about the CDC Evaluation Working Group and its effort to promote program evaluation in public health. The links provide an overview of the group, highlights of a framework for program evaluation, and additional resources that may help. http://www.cdc.gov/eval/resources/index.htm