Valid and Reliable Conclusions - General Guidelines

Below are some general guidelines to help generate a worthy conclusion to the work. This is the time to look across the sections of the report, begin to understand how they relate to each other and begin to create larger linking thoughts that will serve as conclusions about the work.  

Reviewing Sections of the Document

To start, look at the different sections of the report.  

Introduction: Introduce the purpose and the objectives

All stories start with an introduction and so do the reports. The introduction sets up the reader to understand the purpose for why assessment occurs in the first place. Spend time here to help explain the reasons for this approach, the objectives, the assessment models chosen and the expectations for understanding that will come out of the work.

Literature Review: Review of what has been written before

Literature Reviews are nothing more than identifying who has written before on the exact topic. Frequently, previous writers have some powerful conclusions about the same work. For example, if one is doing an audience satisfaction survey, and before starting reviews a large theatre’s audience satisfaction survey, one may be able to borrow from parts of that survey and then compare answers with the larger theatre’s survey answers. The report will benefit from this kind of pre-research.

Methodology: How the work was conducted

Methodology sections are simply the nuts and bolts of how one conducted his or her work. Given the objectives, what assessment models were chosen, how and when will the assessments be given, how is the data collected, and how is it then analyzed?

Data Collection: All of the major data that was collected

Data collection is not the spreadsheet that was used, which would be noted in the methodology section before this section, but is a series of paragraphs and tables that explain how the data that was collected produced particular results.

Findings: Concise, loaded and impactful statement of outcomes

Findings are the results of the analysis, boiled down to categories of results and tied directly to the objectives of the work.

Conclusion: Short story of the work

Conclusions are the stories of one’s work that connects the objectives with the findings. Conclusions concisely tell the through-line story between each objective and the assessment model that produced its finding. Conclusions are almost works of art in and of themselves.

For Example, Here Are Six Ways to Powerfully Conclude...

1) Put the findings together into a coherent whole thought.
2) Synthesize, don’t summarize, don’t analyze.
3) Include a quote from the literature and peg your work to it.
4) Why is this work important for a reader to know?
5) How does this influence others’ programs, classes, fundraising, etc.?
6) What are further implications for your theatre, all theatres, education, etc.?

For Example, Here Are Six Ways NOT to Conclude...

1) Presenting Findings/Evidence that should be in the main data section problem, “In this survey we found 98% of students like theatre…”
2) Problem of nothing to conclude, “As we have seen in this survey…”
3) Problem of emotional appeal, “Theatre Education will transcend all…”
4) Problem of a single bullet theory, “Therefore we can conclude that Theatre Education will solve all issues…”
5) Problem of over-generalizing, “This survey of Theatre opinions means theatres across the country should…”
6) Problem of not pushing findings forward, “This survey tells us that students like theatre…”

Example Conclusion From Case Study


From a qualitative evaluation point of view, teachers rallied behind the program and worked hard all year to make positive impact on students. The camaraderie of the staff and leaders was notable in their pursuit of a quality program.

  • The after-school staff was more than supportive and encouraging. They were always responsive to staff needs and suggestions, sympathetic to problems and creative with challenges. This would have been a much more difficult year with different management (Futures teacher).
  • Ms. Stevens has done a fantastic job of motivating and engaging the staff (Strings teacher).

However, teachers thought that discipline problems overshadowed instructional success. A part of the discipline issue overlaps with the lack of the coordinator position and with management of the program in general and part of the discipline problem overlaps with student screening, selection, attendance and commitment to the arts.


There is a basic barometer for success in this program and it seems to revolve around the idea of, “The after-school program needs to feel more like an arts program, not an afterschool holding tank” (Recording Studio teacher). The tension between instruction and discipline is found in every classroom in our educational system. A basic rule of thumb in evaluation is that instruction should be more evident than discipline. This rule belies the work needed at the beginning of regular school or at the beginning of an after-school program to establish the disciplinary ground rules, practice those rules and then launch instructional guidelines so that instruction takes center-stage of any education program. This is perhaps the most important criteria for the after-school program to work on—the perception that instructional arts is center stage, and that stage is made from solid discipline resulting in good student behavior.


  • Many enthusiastic students left the program because of the behavior of other students. I believe we need to do better for those children (Dance teacher).


  • I believe we need clear academy-wide goals, rules, rewards and consequences that are adhered to consistently and reinforced in every class (Dance teacher).

Classroom Coordinator

  • It might be great to have a separate coordinator that helps us to integrate the collaboration process between classes (Actor).
Focus Effort for Consistency
  • Number of IS220 teachers in the program was too many. Fewer teachers working more days will provide students with a consistent environment for relationship development and present a steady discipline style. Also, this addresses the need for teachers to earn a consistent income that compares favorably with other opportunities (Teacher).

Short Checklist of a Successful Program

  • Good staff and student relationships.
  • Good management leadership.
  • Good community relations.
  • Good field-trip opportunities.
  • Good community showcase performances (Teacher).