More than Just a Check Box: Bring Meaning to Your Use of Fidelity Observation Tools

Whether you are required to use fidelity observation tools by a funder, or you choose to use them voluntarily, you can make time spent on fidelity observations more valuable by establishing an atmosphere of continuous quality improvement that fosters intrinsic motivation for delivery staff.

Here are some strategies to try:

  • If not covered in initial training, ensure that all staff understands the importance of model fidelity before they begin implementing. Review the logic model and research outcomes associated with the program.

  • Keep expectations clear. Make sure all facilitators who are being observed have had a chance to review the checklist/tool.

  • Provide feedback to the facilitator being observed. This may take the form of a debriefing meeting, a supervision session, or possibly providing a copy of the completed observation form to the facilitator. Keep feedback constructive. Establish a “We can overcome any challenge we know about!” atmosphere.

  • Pay attention to what works! Identify individuals who consistently reach high levels of fidelity. Ask them to share stories about their implementation with others via email, presentations, or even a blog!

  • Schedule a meeting with facilitators and use your program’s fidelity observation tool to guide a conversation about the quality of implementation. Review each item/concept from the tool and discuss how it relates to the logic model of your program.

  • Watch for patterns. If observations show repeated challenges in one area of implementation, bring in an expert. The EPISCenter Prevention Coordinators are available to provide technical assistance to support model fidelity. They can help you determine if it is time to contact the program developer for refresher training.

  • Networking. Find out how other programs use fidelity monitoring tools through participation in an EPISCenter program specific networking meeting or CTC regional gathering. These events happen several times a year and are open to anyone who is interested in evidence-based programming.