So what is evaluation?
Do you have a favorite definition? Is it the same definition used by your colleagues? How about your client’s definition?
Definitions can be fun topics of discussion, especially when the definitions we hold close don’t match the definitions of those around us.
About the illustrations
So I’m trying a discussion-focused approach to cartooning. I start by choosing an important but common topic of conversation. Then, with expert help, I research the topic to identify critical pieces of the overall discussion.
Once I understand some of the critical elements of the discussion, I cartoon. The cartoons are then posted on freshspectrum. This is not the end of the process. What I hope is that you, yes you, will also provide some input on missing elements.
A few notes:
- If you like the post, write a comment and let me know.
- Share it with colleagues. Seeing people sharing my cartoons inspires me to create more cartoons.
- If you think I’m missing critical pieces to the overall discussion, let me know in the comments.
- Please feel free to use my cartoons in presentations, training materials, etc.
Defining in Code
Sometimes it’s easier to define using metaphor, especially when you’re trying to paint a picture of every part of the field. Roger Miranda’s children’s book Eva the Evaluator gave me the inspiration for this cartoon.
Research and Evaluation
Jane Davidson wrote a nice post on Genuine Evaluation about the difference between evaluation and other pursuits. A few lines stood out and inspired the following cartoon.
The fundamental difference is that evaluation asks and answers questions about the quality, value, and/or importance of things (design, implementation, outputs, outcomes, impacts, the project/program/policy/etc as a whole, and so on).
If we’re not doing that, we’re not actually doing evaluation.
I reached out to colleagues to get their favorite definitions. If you have one, let me know in the comments. This definition was provided to me by David Bernstein.
“Program evaluation is the systematic assessment of program results and, to the extent feasible, systematic assessment of the extent to which the program caused those results. Evaluation includes ongoing monitoring of programs, as well as one shot studies of program processes or program impact. The approaches used are based on social science research methodologies and professional standards.”
You can find the definition here Newcomer, Hatry, and Wholey, 2010, p. xxxiii. It inspired this cartoon.
Merit, Worth, and Value
So what am I missing? Do you have a definition that you love but don’t see reflected in the above illustrations. Let me know, it may just lead to a new cartoon.
Here is a new tweet inspired cartoon…