Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

2.2. Processes to monitor work progress

ryanrori December 30, 2020

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What does it mean to monitor your progress?

Monitoring your community initiative can help you weigh your actions against the results to see if you are meeting the goals of the community and your initiative. In a sense, monitoring data helps you understand how well the initiative is functioning. That is, monitoring can help pinpoint where the actions of the initiative are not producing the desired effects. Additionally, the monitoring system can help you

  • Better understand the initiative
  • Make decisions concerning the programming of the initiative
  • Promote awareness of accomplishments
  • Recruit support
  • Secure funding

Despite the scary sound of “monitoring system,” you have probably already observed examples of monitoring in a variety of ways. Political candidates monitor the status of their campaigns by conducting polls and analyzing the results. Teachers monitor the progress of their students by giving tests at the beginning and end of the school year to see if they have mastered the secrets of long division. You might monitor your utility bills by keeping track of the monthly increases and decreases. Monitoring has a wide variety of applications. As a member of a community initiative, monitoring means a way of tracking major events and accomplishments of the initiative.

Why do you need to monitor your progress?

Now you might be thinking to yourself, “You want me to gather information about our initiative. But what will I do with all of those numbers and comments? Why is this important for the success of our group?” Don’t worry; the data you gather by using the monitoring system can help the group in a variety of ways.

  • Data can tell you where the initiative places its emphasis. For example, the monitoring system might reveal that your initiative focuses on services, rather than change. If change is what you want, the monitoring system will help you detect this at an early date.
  • Data can point out which groups in the community are affected by your initiative. Is your initiative producing a lot of change in the schools, but little change in the criminal justice system? Is this what you and the community want and need? Who is being targeted? With the results of the monitoring system, you might be able to better answer these questions.
  • Data can reveal which strategies are being addressed. The monitoring system can determine whether your initiative is offering information without following through with peer support or access to other resources.
  • Data can be used by the staff to achieve a variety of results. Staff and leadership can use the data to promote community awareness of the initiative’s activities and accomplishments, recruit community support, and secure financial resources.

 How do you monitor your progress?

Like many aspects of building a community initiative, the monitoring system involves several important steps. Before you can start analyzing your data, you first have to collect it.

1. Data can be collected by completing event logs and other forms on a regular basis. Event logs are written accounts of the major activities of the initiative. They might also be used to record any changes in the community brought about by the initiative, such as new programs, policies, or practices related to the initiative’s goals and mission.

The event log might include important information such as:

  • the month/day/year of the event
  • a description of the event itself, including
    • why it was important
    • what happened as a result
  • a description of the details of the event, including
    • who was involved
    • what organizations contributed people and resources
    • what community sector or objective this relates to
    • if this is the first time this event happened

 2. These event logs can be completed by several people, such as key project staff and active members of the initiative. The people who fill out logs will be those members who are taking action on behalf of the initiative. Ideally, everyone who is doing something for the initiative will complete event logs. Event logs should be completed no later than one week after the event took place. That way, the important details will be fresh in everyone’s mind! The completed event logs can then be given to the people in the group who are in charge of evaluation.

3. We’ve found that data collection in own work takes about two hours to a week to complete. Of course, if your initiative is working on a particularly involved project one week, you might spend twice or even three times that amount of time gathering data. Carefully gathering your information will mean that the results that are generated will be more accurate, and therefore more valuable to your initiative.

4. Once the information has been gathered, it needs to be turned over to the people in your group who will put the data into some kind of organized form so that the initiative can use it in a beneficial way. This step in the process might take a good deal of time; but, don’t be scared! As you have heard many times already, the benefits you receive from the evaluation process will only be helpful if you spend the time to carefully analyze the results. While this might take a few hours, in the end, you’ll be glad you did it!

What are the benefits of progress monitoring?

When progress monitoring is implemented correctly, the benefits are great for everyone involved. Some benefits include:

  • accelerated learning because students are receiving more appropriate instruction;
  • more informed instructional decisions;
  • documentation of student progress for accountability purposes;
  • more efficient communication with families and other professionals about students’ progress;

Overall, the use of progress monitoring results in more efficient and appropriately targeted instructional techniques and goals, which together, move all students to faster attainment of important state standards of achievement.