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What is an Evaluation?
To begin understanding development evaluation, it is important that you understand what is meant by evaluation and its purposes. Evaluation can be defined in a number of ways. The straightforward dictionary definition of evaluation is: 1. the action of appraising or valuing (goods, etc); a calculation or statement of value; 2. the action of evaluating or determining the value of (a mathematical expression, a physical quantity, etc.), or of estimating the force of (probabilities, evidence, etc) .

Yet within the evaluation discipline, the term has come to have a variety of meanings. Indeed, there is no universal agreement on the definition itself. In fact, in considering the role of language in evaluation, Michael Scriven, one of the founders of modern evaluation, recently noted that there are nearly sixty [emphasis added] different terms for evaluation that apply to one context or another. These include: adjudge, appraise, analyze, assess, critique, examine, grade, inspect, judge, rate, rank, review, score, study, test…

Evaluation is a process that critically examines a programme/project/policy. It involves the collecting and analysing of data of a planned, on-going or completed intervention to determine its relevance, efficiency, impact and/or sustainability.

Its purpose is to demonstrate improvement or not of the said interventions while incorporating lessons learned into the decision making process.

Types of Evaluations!
Evaluation is categorized into two (2) broad groups: formative and summative.
1. Formative evaluations are conducted during programme development and implementation and are useful if you want direction on how to best achieve your goals or improve your programme.
2. Summative evaluations should be completed once your programmes are well established and will tell you to what extent the programme is achieving its goals.

Within the categories of formative and summative, there are different types of evaluation:

Type of Evaluation Purpose
Formative
1. Pre Implementation Assessment
Preliminary evaluation of a project, programme or policy’s implementation strategy to assure that three standards are met:

• Objectives are well defined
• Implementation plans are plausible
• Intended use of resources are well defined and are appropriate to achievement of objects

2. Process Implementation Evaluation
Provides detailed information on whether the programme is operating as it ought(are we doing things right)
Provides detailed information on programme functioning to those interested in replication or scaling up a pilot.
Provides continuous feedback loops to assist managers.

Summative
1.Outcome Evaluation
Provides information to what extent the project, programme or policy is achieving its shorter and medium term outcomes. For example, outcome evaluations may examine improvements in participants’ knowledge, skills, attitudes, intentions, or behaviours.
2.Impact Evaluation
Provides information on how and why intended (and un-intended) projects, programmes or policy longer term outcomes and impacts were achieved (or not). For example, impact evaluations may focus on the qualitative aspect.

Evaluation according to Kusek and Rist can help provide information on strategy, operations, and learning.

Strategy: Are the right things being done?
rational or justification
clear theory of change

Operations: Are things being done right?
effectiveness in achieving expected outcomes
efficiency in optimizing resources
client satisfaction

Learning: Are there better ways?
alternatives
best practices
lessons learned

In summary, managers can use information from evaluation to focus on:

• the broad political strategy and design issues (“Are we doing the right things?”)
• operational and implementation issues (“Are we doing things right?”)
• whether there are better ways of approaching the problem (“What are we learning?”).

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