Visualising evaluation

We ran two evaluation workshops last month. Starting each day by exploring what evaluation is. This included some visual representations of how individuals thought of evaluation. Various themes emerged, some related to the overall process of evaluation, with several people referring to evaluation as a journey, some along twisting roads or with occasional diversions along dead-ends that may lead to adapting evaluation strategies. There was also frequent reference to the value of continual reflection, evaluation thus being very much an iterative process where original assumptions may need to be revisited. This was also demonstrated with the view of evaluation of a tree that grows and bears fruit. It also needs to be flexible (also like a tree). There was a lot of discussion of the value of evaluation for capturing learning, although it was noted that capturing the journey is no easy task.

One picture that really caught my attention was this 'evaluation whirlwind', or maybe it was a tornado. I'm not sure what the person who drew it had it mind, but it made me think of evaluation of a process that can pull in all kinds of data, some of which may be messy and windblown, formative evaluation takes place while lots of activity is going on around you, but at the end could filter down to some form of consensus.

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