Actionable Evaluation Basics by E. Jane Davidson
Getting succinct answers to the most important questions [minibook]

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Synopsis

Avoid getting lost in indicators, measures, and analysis methods; use this succinct guide to get clear, well-reasoned, insightful answers to your most important questions about quality and value.

Great tips for reporting that is succinct and straight-to-the-point without falling into the trap of oversimplification.

This easy-to-read, informative minibook provides an overview of the six elements essential for actionable evaluation, as covered in Dr. Jane Davidson’s popular workshops on Actionable Evaluation:
(1) a clear purpose for the evaluation;
(2) the right stakeholder engagement strategy;
(3) important, big picture evaluation questions to guide the whole evaluation;
(4) well-reasoned answers to the big picture questions;
(5) succinct, straight to the point reporting that doesn't get lost in the details; and
(6) answers and insights that are actionable.

Do you ever get frustrated with people who think that all there is to evaluation is picking a few indicators and measuring them? The same ones who think all qualitative and even mixed method work is fluffy and unreliable?

And, on the other hand, have you ever read (or written!) an evaluation report and still wondered yourself how worthwhile the outcomes really were or whether the entire program (or project, policy, etc.) was in fact a complete waste of time, effort, and money?

At one level, we can understand managers’ needing direct answers to their important questions – and trackable progress they can visualize. But how can evaluators deliver on that without massively oversimplifying the richness we see in project, program, and policy design, implementation, and outcomes?

Actionable evaluation:
(a) is clearly relevant to the key actions, decisions, and thinking of those the evaluation needs to inform;
(b) goes right to the heart of what is really important, and doesn't get lost in trivia;
(c) favors approximate answers to important questions over accuracy to four decimal places on trivia;
(d) resists being lured into a focus on the outcomes that are most easily measured;
(e) presents findings in a way that is simple, but not simplistic;
(f) is useful — at both strategic and practical (or operational) levels;
(g) influences and clarifies thinking, action, and decision-making; and
(h) gives insights that help people figure out what actions to take.

Yes! Because evaluation is not only about measures and analysis methods; evaluation is about delivering clear, well-reasoned answers to the most important questions.

Dr. E. Jane Davidson is internationally recognized for applying critical thinking and evaluative reasoning to evaluation, policy, strategy, and program design. She is author of Evaluation Methodology Basics: The Nuts and Bolts of Sound Evaluation (Sage Publications, 2005), which has sold well in the U.S. and internationally as a graduate text and evaluation practitioners’ guidebook.

Jane brings a distinctively multidisciplinary and refreshingly practical, plain language approach to her work, which spans education, health, social policy, leadership development, and many other areas.

She blogs alongside Professor Patricia J. Rogers on the entertaining and popular Genuine Evaluation blog. Both bloggers share a commitment to improving the quality of evaluation, an unwillingness to accept credentials or power as a substitute for quality, and an international approach from a distinctly Southern Hemisphere perspective.

Since winning the American Evaluation Association’s Marcia Guttentag Award in 2005, Jane has delivered keynote addresses and professional development workshops around the world, in the U.S., the U.K., Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
 

About E. Jane Davidson

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Published December 4, 2013 by Real Evaluation Ltd.. 54 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Science & Math.

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