Working Effectively in Evaluation

Evaluation in Complex Situations

It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it: Evaluation processes that deliver maximum impact and influence  

Judy Oakden (external evaluator) and Clare Bear (commissioner) presented this paper at the 2013 ANZEA Conference, in Wellington.

Drawing on examples from the Sustainable Farming Fund Evaluation this presentation offered practical tips to build usability into an evaluation from the start. The presenters showed how they built use into the evaluation at all stages in the process. This included:

  • the scoping, relationship building and contracting stages
  • the way external evaluators engaged with commissioners to design a multi-purpose evaluation approach
  • the stance taken to project management and client engagement
  • planning communication from the outset, which ensured findings were communicated with stakeholders.
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Using a Complementary Evaluation Approach

Complementary evaluation – bringing theory and practice together through relationship building

Carol Much, Nicola Maw and Judy Oakden presented this paper at the 2012 ANZEA Conference, in Hamilton.

Complementary evaluation is a valuable approach that not only meets demands for efficiency and effectiveness but also aligns with proven good practice in evaluation. Complementary evaluation can promote relationship building and capacity building. This paper presented a theoretical perspective, an applied perspective and a “lived” perspective on the benefits of using this approach. The session was for people who commission evaluation, conduct evaluation and for those who wanted to learn of ways of working in collaborative environments.

Experience showed this way of working was:

  • genuine: enabling a wide range of people to engage in a fair and transparent way, and to come to well understood judgments about the evaluand
  • robust: with the best possible use of existing and new data, and with multiple perspectives and values included in the data gathering
  • practical: easily implemented and flexible enough to adapt to the needs of different organisations, while keeping the integrity of the model.
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Approaches for Assessing Progress in Building Relationships

Quizzing Purposeful Relationships – What Is This Thing Called A ‘Working Relationship’? 

Fiona Cram and Judy Oakden presented this paper at the 2012 Australasian Evaluation Society International Conference in Adelaide, Australia.

How can service providers and funders develop relationships which help them to align to deliver services? How can we determine whether this alignment occurs? Are there known aspects of relationships we could measure? This presentation introduces the idea of purposeful relationships. We discuss a questionnaire developed to specifically target known aspects of relationships.  We propose that this questionnaire offers an important contribution to those charged with evaluating relationships within provider service provision.

Questions include whether organisations (often service providers and government agencies) are genuinely able to engage, express views and be listened to. Questions also assess whether they can develop agreed understandings, work collaboratively and make joint commitments to reduce disparities. Research so far shows that purposeful relationships build over time and are robust and institutionally based.

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