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Programme evaluation: Maintaining quality in higher education
The evaluation of educational or social programmes is paramount for establishing success or impact in higher education. Evaluation questions about programme goals (e.g. better performance of first-year students) or about the quality of programme strategies (design and implementation) and effectiveness of delivery (coordinator inputs and management) reflect not only sound research methodology, but also the desire for real knowledge claims regarding programme effect. The model for programme evaluation presented in this article is generic and could be applied to any academic or support programme. The research is presented here as it pertains to a structured mentoring programme for undergraduate students and focuses on programme implementation and programme monitoring. While programme monitoring focuses more on programme delivery, outcome evaluation or impact assessment looks at the actual benefits experienced by the clientele or beneficiaries (Babbie and Mouton 2003), in this case students in higher education. The evaluation of programmes is important to establish success or impact of interventions. Therefore, a logic model to enable programme coordinators to evaluate their work is presented and discussed.