In every walk of life, the process of evaluation takes place in one or the other form. It is only through evaluation that one can learn. The whole cycle of social development revolves around the evaluation process.
Evaluation plays an enormous role in the learning process. It helps trainers and learners to improve training and learning. Evaluation is a continuous process and a periodic exercise.
A simple representation explaining the role of evaluation in the learning process is shown below:
Perhaps the most extended definition of evaluation has been supplied by C.E. Beeby (1977), who described evaluation as “the systematic collection and interpretation of evidence leading as a part of the process to a judgment of value with a view to action.”
Different elements have an impact on the success of an activity/event; the atmosphere and dynamics in the group, the aims, and objectives, the way the topic is addressed, the different methods that are introduced, the accommodation, etc.
Below are some areas you may like to consider when planning your evaluation.
Aims and Objectives
The ‘aim’ is a long-term goal or purpose (ie. the reason why we are delivering the activity/event) and an ‘objective’ is a measurable, observable behavior (ie. what we need to do to reach our aim). It can be beneficial for the evaluation process to set your aims and objectives from the outset and use these as the basis for the outcomes that the activity is evaluated against.
To what extent did learning take place and what did the participants learn? How did it affect their work and what was implemented as a result of the activity? Which methods were productive and which were not so productive? What would you change in the future courses?
Practicalities and resources
How did the participants find the practical arrangements and logistics for the activity? Were there adequate resources and how were these utilized?
This information is an important addition to the outcome evaluation and can be used to determine whether the organization of the activity or its location etc. was successful and appropriate.
Teamwork and partnership
More for the organizers of activity, evaluation of this area allows you to assess what worked well amongst stakeholders/partners, what didn’t, and what each person/organization was able to bring to the organization and delivery of the activity.
Evaluation is an ongoing process that should be incorporated into the whole life cycle of any given activity – planning, delivery and after the activity itself.
There are some specific points throughout the life cycle of an activity where it is important to consider evaluation.
Pre-activity evaluation – the planning stages of evaluation where aims and objectives are agreed upon and an evaluation plan developed.
Ongoing evaluation – this could be in the form of a mid-activity evaluation or reflection group enabling adaptation of the activity according to participants’ needs and progress against the aims and objectives.
End of activity evaluation – this can be used to measure the participants’ perceptions about the activity once it has finished – eg. learning outcomes, practicalities, and logistics.
Follow-up evaluation – this takes place after activity and can be used to measure longer-term impact and learning on a personal and professional level, and how this learning has been used.
How to apply it in everyday work?
Let’s try to think about how to implement an evaluation path for ongoing training. These ten questions can provide a scaffold for you to consider in planning an evaluation which is one of the main activities for this course.
- How is evaluation defined?
- What are the functions of the evaluation?
- What are the objects of evaluation?
- What kinds of information should be collected regarding each objective?
- What criteria should be used to judge the merit and worth of an evaluated objective?
- Who should be served (gain) by an evaluation?
- What is the process of doing an evaluation?
- What methods of inquiry should be used in evaluation?
- Who should do the evaluation?
- By what standards should evaluation be judged?
These ten questions provide a comprehensive overview of the evaluation process. Do you agree that each of the questions should be on the list? Are there missing questions?
- Do I believe in the evaluation as an integral part of the training process?
- Which kind of experience I have personally with the evaluation process?
- Do I recognize the value of evaluation?
- Which approach did I develop in my activities about evaluation?