Evaluation frequently relies on the collection and analysis of data in number form. Approaches which involve this are termed ‘quantitative’. They range in complexity from simple monitoring to the randomised control trial. Most arts and health project evaluations will benefit from using a mix of simple quantitative and qualitative methods.
Even the smallest scale project evaluation will involve some kind of monitoring of attendance or number of activities delivered. Quantitative data are also often collected at the end of a project or activity using surveys or questionnaires. Reporting on these can be a good way to describe impacts on participants. However, they cannot tell us much about whether a project has actually had a measurable effect. To find out whether a change might have taken place, you will need to measure at both the beginning and end of a project.
Use of a measure developed by researchers and ‘validated’ or tested on similar participants in a similar context, for example, the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale, can give more reliable data. Validated scales also allows what you find for participants in your project to be compared with those of similar projects elsewhere.