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Section 5. Constituent Survey of Outcomes: Ratings of Importance

Learn how a constituent survey of outcomes will help examine the greater impact of your work by posing questions to initiative members and community experts.


This section is based on an article in the Work Group Evaluation Handbook: Evaluating and Supporting Community Initiatives for Health and Development by Stephen B. Fawcett, Adrienne Paine-Andrews, Vincent T. Francisco, Jerry Schultz, Kimber P. Richter, R.K. Lewis, E.L. Williams, K.J. Harris, Jannette Berkley, Jacqueline L. Fisher, and Christine M. Lopez of the Work Group on Health Promotion and Community Development, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.

  • What is a constituent survey of outcomes?

  • Why should we use a constituent survey of outcomes?

  • When should we conduct this survey?

  • How do we conduct this survey?

What is a constituent survey of outcomes?

A constituent survey of outcomes will help you to examine the greater impact of your group's work. It poses questions to members of the initiative and experts in the community. The people who fill out the survey will express their opinions about the importance of the group's accomplishments for the community as a whole, and for the mission of the initiative.

If your group's focus is on reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in your community, one of your goals might be to sponsor an employee health fair at the local public schools where you offer free screening and information to reduce the risk for heart disease.

On the survey of outcomes, you might ask respondents to rate this objective as being either "Very Important," or "Very Unimportant." Then, after averaging the responses, you would have a better idea of how this action benefited the community, in the eyes of community members.

Why should you conduct this survey?

As with the constituent survey of process, this survey gives members of the community and of the initiative an opportunity to voice their opinions and express their ideas about the outcome of your group's work. Additionally, the survey gives those who are close to the group more chances to offer suggestions for improvement.

If the group hoping to raise awareness of heart disease found out from its survey that many people benefited from the campaign to reach school employees, it could continue on with this type of community outreach. But, if another goal didn't produce the same type of positive feedback, then the group could think about re-adjusting its action plans to incorporate another type of outreach.

As with all of the aspects of the evaluation, the constituent survey of outcomes is a useful way to get a more objective, unbiased opinion about the work your group is pursuing.

When should you conduct the constituent survey of outcomes?

We recommend conducting this survey every several years, this will increase your feedback and allow you to revise your vision as necessary. The last year of the grant period might be a good time, as well. Sometimes the place that you are receiving funding from will require you to do this survey.

How do you conduct a constituent survey of outcomes?

If you've already conducted the constituent surveys of goals and process, you probably feel like an old pro by now. You'll be happy to hear that you can continue to practice your finely tuned surveying skills with the constituent survey of outcomes!

The constituent survey of outcomes involves four different steps.

Develop a survey

Remember the folks who put together the constituent survey of goals and the constituent survey of process? You'll need their expertise and creativity once again. These individuals should design a survey that lists the accomplishments that your group has proudly achieved. Looking back through event logs and the goal attainment report will help refresh your memory.

Conduct a survey of constituents

Are you ready to distribute the surveys? Great! You'll want to share these surveys with members who have some knowledge of the group and the areas you are evaluating and with outside experts with specialized knowledge in the area. Once you have determined who should receive the questionnaires, they should be mailed, or perhaps distributed at a general meeting of your initiative. Don't forget to clearly state a return address!

Use the data to determine which changes have had the greatest effect

Once you have collected all of the surveys, you will want to find the means of the respondents' answers. If, for each of the questions, you asked the respondent to answer "1" for "Very Unimportant" and "5" for "Very Important" to describe the impact on the community, you would determine an average for the numbers, and then find a range of the numbers.

To find the mean, or the average, response, simply add together all of the ratings, then divide by the total number of respondents. If, for one of the questions, ten people respond with ratings of 3, 4, 4, 5, 3, 2, 5, 4, 4, 3, you would add up all of these numbers and then divide that total by ten. The mean response in this case would be 3.70 (or 37/10). The range of numbers runs from 2-5, two being the lowest and five the highest score.

Use the survey results to refine the group's choices for action

Okay, so now you have a whole batch of numbers. Where do you go from there? That answer, in most situations, lies in your hands. The results of this survey may encourage you to continue on in the same direction, or it may challenge you to rethink some of your plans. In either case, the survey of outcomes is yet another tool to help you work better in your group and in the community.

Aimee Whitman

Print Resources

Fawcett, S., in collaboration with Paine, A., Francisco, V., Schultz, J., Richter, K., Lewis, R., Williams, E., Harris, K., Berkley, J., Fisher, J., & Lopez, C. (1994). Work group evaluation handbook: Evaluating and supporting community initiatives for health and development. Lawrence, KS: Work Group on Health Promotion and Community Development, University of Kansas.