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How to analyse and make sense of monitoring information for your mentoring or befriending project

Have you collected monitoring information about your mentoring or befriending project and now need to make sense of it? This guide will help you analyse the information you have gathered and make judgements about it - the evaluating part of your monitoring and evaluation. 

Things you'll need

  • monitoring information
1

Remind yourself what you're trying to achieve

What are the changes, learning and benefits (also known as ‘outcomes’) you want your project to have?

A key part of your analysis will be critically reviewing and making judgements about whether your project has resulted in these changes and the factors that have affected this. However, you should also highlight the unexpected changes that have happened as a result of your mentoring or befriending project. 

Through your analysis you will need to interpret your information and ask critically what the data means. This will help you answer key questions about your project's outcomes.

  • Has the project achieved the changes/benefits we wanted? It not, why not? 
  • What other outcomes have come about? 
  • Did our services/activities run as we planned? If not, why not?
  • What went well and what could be improved? 
  • What have we learnt? 
  • How could we change/develop our mentoring or befriending project?
2

Make sense of quantitative information

An element of your evaluation is likely to involve interpreting numbers (for example, responses from a survey). This does not need to be overly complex and you may only need to carry out basic analysis – identifying patterns using percentages, averages or frequencies (for example, the number of respondents who said x or y).

Be cautious when using percentages, especially if you have a small number of respondents. Stating the number of responses can often be more useful and less misleading than percentages. If you are looking to assess distance travelled amongst service users, changes in confidence, or job searching skills over a period of time, you will need to measure change from the baseline to another point in time.

Some mentoring and befriending organisations use Excel to help them analyse their information and use this to produce graphs to make sense of their data visually. (Further guidance on Excel is available online, even if you're a beginner.) If you are using online questionnaires, tools such as SurveyMonkey will do the analysis for you.

If you have used participatory or visual tools and want to analyse these quantitatively Evaluation Support Scotland offer guidance on how to do this.

3

Make sense of qualitative information

Qualitative information will help you explore what individuals - service users, mentors and befrienders - think and feel about your project. You may have gathered this information through observations, surveys, interviews, group discussions, case notes or participatory tools.

To help make sense of your information, read it through, identify key themes and categorise your different pieces of information under these different topics. Some projects find it helpful to use different colour highlighters or cut and paste words to help group qualitative information into themes. Go back to your expected outcomes for your project and ensure these are reflected in your categories.

However, you also need to make sure you capture the unexpected changes and benefits and, most importantly, the learning. As you go through you will need to critically review it, make judgements about the information and ask questions about what it might mean.

See Evaluation Support Scotland’s guidance on analysing qualitative information from participatory or visual tools.

Further information

This is the third part of five ‘how to guides’ which will help you monitor and evaluate your mentoring or befriending project. The other guides are:

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Page last edited Mar 15, 2018 History

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