Sunday, 14 October 2012

Evidence of what worked, at some point, in some place

A major highlight at this year’s annual conference of the German Evaluation Society (DeGEval) was Prof. Gert Biesta’s keynote speech on research as a provider of evidence for policy. “Evidence-based” is a buzzword in development (as well as other disciplines, such as education); bilateral and multilateral donors have mobilised considerable funding to “building an evidence base”. The basic idea is that interventions should be based on the best possible evidence of what works. In his speech, Biesta unravelled the meanings of “intervention”, “evidence” and “what works” to raise fundamental questions: What role should evidence play in policy making? What kind of evidence are we talking about, anyway, and can it replace professional judgement and wider democratic deliberation?

Monday, 8 October 2012

Take time to prepare evaluations!

Since September, there has been an extraordinary flurry of calls for proposals for external evaluations. This is good news; it suggests that people find it important to evaluate their work. But, upon closer examination, you'll notice that many calls for proposals envisage the evaluations to begin just a couple of weeks after the deadline for offers, and to end within a month or so. That is frustrating for busy consultants, who tend to be fully booked several months ahead. Narrow time-frames may also make it difficult for those who commission the evaluation to identify sufficiently skilled and experienced candidates. If you take evaluation seriously, then surely you want it to be done in the best possible way your resources allow? 
Over the years, I have come to appreciate time as a major element of evaluation quality.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Facilitating workshops in two and more languages

A friend recently asked me about interpreters to support a planning workshop in East Africa, reminding me that I meant to write down a few guiding thoughts on facilitation in multi-lingual contexts. It is complicated, but if it works out well it is truly empowering to those who do not speak the "dominant" language.