|Assessment – process of estimating the value/quality of something before or during a process/event
Evaluation – the process of measuring the amount of something during and/or after a process/event
Monitoring – the maintenance of regular surveillance of a process/event
Effective evaluation depends on knowing what you are aiming for, what and why you want to evaluate, and what your time and cost restraints are. There are different kinds of evaluation for different purposes. Evaluation should assist in learning what works well and thereby assist building the capacity and capability of what is being assessed. It should be a process of collecting information to assess the value of any activity and the quality of the program.
There are a number of stakeholders who will be expecting feedback on the program – for different reasons, at different times and in different formats:
In the role as program developer or facilitator, meeting these assessments, evaluation and reporting needs will be something to take into consideration in the planning stages. A number of tools are available to help:
A workshop administration role assigned either to one of the facilitators or an external person is an invaluable asset, so that the reporting obligations are not forgotten.
In addition to the formal and informal assessment and evaluation requirements – there are some guiding questions that should inform all of the decisions made, both during program development and facilitation of the workshop. Are we improving electoral processes? Are we strengthening the confidence and competence of key stakeholders? It is possible that you may not be able to measure these more fundamental questions in numbers or forms – but you will most probably have anecdotal evidence which can also serve a valuable purpose as a way to explain why BRIDGE programs are effective.
The most important concept to understand with evaluation and assessment with BRIDGE is that we are assessing the success or otherwise of the program, rather than the success of any individual participants to learn or understand. The assessment tools used in BRIDGE are not designed to pass or fail participants.
Planning for evaluation
Any BRIDGE program will cost money, and implementers will therefore inevitably have to account to those who are funding them for the way in which the money has been spent, and the benefits which flow from the expenditure. Processes for measuring the impact of a BRIDGE program will therefore invariably need to be developed. This issue can be approached at a number of different levels. An assessment may be:
The BRIDGE founding partners are clearly committed to the process of continuously improving the product, and feedback from evaluations is a critical resource for them in achieving this objective. However, because the time of the client is precious, the extent and degree of evaluation need to be agreed at the planning stage. The evaluation process involves comparing performance against expectations, and therefore needs to be structured taking agreed outputs or outcomes into account.
A clear focus on defining expectations when planning evaluations also helps to ensure that expectations are realistic, and shared by all involved. This is discussed further in the Facilitators Notes.
Evaluation needs to match program objectives (see section 3.1 Setting Program Objectives, below)
Evaluation of a BRIDGE program should take place:
The first two stages of the evaluation process have already been covered in previous chapters – pre-program assessment (which determines what the evaluation is measuring against) and monitoring during the workshop (which contributes to the evaluation process).
Assuming pre-program assessment and workshop monitoring have been conducted adequately, post-program evaluation should be more of a compilation exercise intended to give an overall view of the implementation of the project and measure its achievements. The impact of the project can be assessed by measuring the competence and skills both of the national authorities and individual participants in dealing with matters covered during the program.
Evaluations, if done effectively, comprise several levels and strategies – each targeting different stakeholders with different approaches. Before turning to specific examples of evaluation strategies and questions, we need to clarify exactly what we mean by evaluation.
|Refer to: 8.5 Annex 5: BRIDGE Evaluation Cycle for a summary of the main elements of evaluation, and things to consider when designing an evaluation process for BRIDGE.|