How to Evaluate a Workshop or Seminar

 Introduction to a Basic Study

This post provides information about one way to evaluate a workshop or seminar.

I will illustrate the process using a hypothetical example of forgiveness.

Suppose you wanted to evaluate the effectiveness of a workshop on forgiveness. 

You hypothesize that the group participating in the workshop would be more forgiving toward an offender than the group not receiving the forgiveness workshop.

Get approval from your company, university, or other research review board. They usually have forms listing the information you need to provide.

Recruit participants for your workshop.

Obtain consent for the study.

Select a forgiveness program

Select a survey to measure progress in forgiveness.

Create two groups of people.

    Group 1 gets the workshop now.

    Group 2 gets the workshop later and will serve as a control group.

Randomly assign volunteers to one of the two groups.

Deliver the workshop.

Assess the participants' progress by having people in both groups complete the forgiveness survey along with basic information such as age and other relevant characteristics.

Score the survey.

Calculate statistics such as the mean and standard deviation of the forgiveness measure for both groups.

Analyze the data to see if one group obtained a better score than the other group. t test  can help you decide if the differences are statistically different. A measure of  effect size  provides information on the effectiveness of the workshop. You can hire a consultant to perform the statistics.


Notes: Some researchers like to provide a survey before and after a workshop (this is a pretest-posttest design). The advantage is offering a basis for comparison for any changes between before and after but the disadvantage is that the participants may be influenced by reading the set of questions they will complete a second time.

Other researchers avoid the pretest problem by relying on random assignment to control for differences.

Another alternative, is to use a different forgiveness measure as a pretest to see if the groups are different on a relevant dimension of forgiveness before the workshop began. A statistician can use that pretest data as a  covariate  in the analysis

You can read more about evaluating workshops and seminars in Chapter 15 of Creating Surveys.

The text below is from Chapter 15.


After reading about the REACH model developed by Everett L. Worthington Jr. at Virginia Commonwealth University, they decide to implement the program in a weekend format. The research team formulates a simple hypothesis: the REACH forgiveness program will help people forgive someone who deeply offended them.

            In this example, forgiveness is the independent variable having two levels or groups formed by randomly assigning participants to the REACH workshop or the control group. The control group does not attend the REACH workshop. At the conclusion of the workshop, all the people in the study complete a forgiveness survey, which asks questions to determine how forgiving they are toward a person who offended them. The forgiveness survey measures the dependent variable, which is forgiveness. Notice that forgiveness is used in two ways. Forgiveness is both the independent and dependent variable. As an independent variable, forgiveness is defined as participation or nonparticipation in the REACH forgiveness workshop. As a dependent variable, forgiveness is a state of forgiveness measured by a score on a forgiveness survey.

IV Forgiveness

DV Forgiveness

Forgiveness Workshop

Forgiveness Survey

No Workshop Control

Forgiveness Survey

After the surveys have been completed, the data are analyzed. A common statistical analysis to analyze data from a two-group study is the t test. The test results will indicate the REACH workshop was effective if people who took the workshop produced much higher scores than did people in the no-workshop control group.

Link to measures of forgiveness and other psychological variables.


Learn more about using surveys to explore ideas and evaluate programs in the highly recommended book, Creating Surveys available on



Resource Link:  A – Z Test Index



The information about scales and measures is provided for clinicians and researchers based on professional publications. The links to authors, materials, and references can change. You may be able to locate details by contacting the main author of the original article or another author on the article list.


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Geoffrey W. Sutton PhD is Emeritus Professor of Psychology who publishes book and articles about clinical and social psychology including the psychology of religion. Website:


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