What is evaluation?

Various definitions of evaluation:

« The measurement of desirable and undesirable consequences of an action that has been taken in order to forward some goal that we value »

Henry Riecken, 1952

« The procedures of fact-finding about the results of planned social action »

Herbert Hyman, 1962

« Evaluation is the examination of our experience to provide guidance which can be utilised to improve program execution and to improve program planning »

General George A. Lincoln, 1965

« Evaluation is the process of determining merit, worth, or significance; an evaluation is a product of that process. »

Michael Scriven, 1991

« Program evaluation is the systematic collection of information about the activities, characteristics, and outcomes of programs to make judgements about the program, improve program effectiveness, and/or inform decisions about future programming. »

Michael Quinn Patton, 1997

« Evaluation is the systematic assessment of the operation and/or the outcomes of a program or policy, compared to a set of explicit or implicit standards as a means of contributing to the improvement of the program or policy. »

Carol Weiss, 1998

« Program evaluation is the systematic assessment of program results and, to the extent feasible, systematic assessment of the extent to which the program caused those results. Evaluation includes ongoing monitoring of programs, as well as one shot studies of program processes or program impact. The approaches used are based on social science research methodologies and professional standards. »

NewcomerHatry, Wholey, 2010

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