The nature and effectiveness of monitoring and evaluation of social inclusion projects in Scotland : an exploratory analysis
The research examined the experiences of professional workers engaged in the monitoring and evaluation of Scottish social inclusion projects, in order to address the research question "To what extent do the existing systems of monitoring and evaluation in Scottish social inclusion initiatives recognise the particular nature of social inclusion?" In-depth interviews were undertaken with 34 key players involved in the policy and practice of evaluation social inclusion projects. Interviewees included individuals involved in social inclusion projects at both project and programme level, funders and evaluators of social inclusion projects, and policy makers. The interviews were analysed using qualitative content analysis. The research concluded that the respondents were very positive about social inclusion, with the key disadvantage of the term identified as its lack of meaning for the client groups with whom projects were working. Encouraging participation and empowering individuals and communities were seen as the key outcomes of social inclusion projects, with outcomes relating to poverty and tackling exclusion mentioned only by a small number of respondents. Respondents found indicators such as resident satisfaction, fear of crime and confidence useful. Relationships were noted to be an important area that projects had an impact on, but none of the projects involved were actively measuring their impact in this area. Qualitative methods were noted by respondents to be useful in recognising individual experience, and have a key role to play in establishing the additionality of projects, but respondents perceived a lack of credibility of qualitative research amongst funding agencies and policy makers. Respondents raised concerns regarding the views of individuals who did not, for whatever reason, participate in research, but noted the expense of methods that specifically targeted non-participants, and, on the other hand the dangers of survey fatigue. The conclusions of the thesis were that although social inclusion is a well received term and both the policy makers and practitioners are working toward the same agenda, there are a number of areas where there is a need for further development in order to make the monitoring and evaluation of initiatives meaningful. The conclusions note that the current systems meet the needs of neither funding agencies nor projects well.