Who should be a part of the evaluation study sample?
When all participants of a particular program or intervention take part in all the data collection for the evaluation, this is called full census. In some cases, it makes the most sense for everyone to participate in the evaluation process, particularly when the full group is small enough. However, in other instances, it is not feasible to collect data from every participant, in this case, you must select the evaluation sample. You will need to decide who is available to participate in the evaluation and how many participants are feasible based on the evaluation timeline and budget. Prior to conducting the evaluation, the educator should make a plan about who will provide data for the evaluation, and a plan to gain access to data for these participants.
Participants' Rights and IRB Requirements
When designing evaluation tools and collecting data, special attention must be paid to protecting the rights of the participants. It is necessary to follow the human subjects governing rules and regulations to ensure that participants' privacy and freedom rights are not violated.
The Institutional Review Board (IRB) governs participants’ rights as human subjects, and financial educators must follow IRB guidelines when designing evaluation data collection systems to comply with human subjects requirements.
IRB approval is necessary in three primary situations:
- The grant or funding for your project is contingent upon IRB approval.
- The school district where you are implementing the program requires IRB approval.
- You intend to publish evaluation findings in a publication that requires IRB approval.
To comply with participants' privacy rights governing rules, financial educators either must ensure the confidentiality of data and information that results from the evaluation, or must collect data in a way that guarantees the anonymity of the participant. In general, to comply with IRB regulations, if financial educators plan to collect identifiable data from participants, they must receive participants’ consent before collecting data and ensure the confidentiality of the data and information collected. When participants' consent is obtained, it is necessary to state that "participation in the evaluation is voluntary and the participant has the right to withdraw from the evaluation at any time without any penalty." If the confidentiality cannot be ensured, data and information should be anonymous. It is advisable to get an IRB review before evaluation tools are used to collect data and information. If the financial educator's organization does not have an Institutional Review Board, it still is necessary to ensure participants' privacy and freedom rights as put forth by the IRB.
For more information on IRB guidelines or to find an independent IRB, the following sources are useful: