AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Feb/10

26

John LaVelle on Describing Evaluation

My name is John LaVelle.  One of the things that I have struggled with is describing what evaluation is and why it’s important.  Following up on that, many people ask about how evaluation is related to research.

Rad resource: Eva the Evaluator by Roger Miranda and Birgit Stadler.  This is a delightful and inexpensive book about a little girl named Eva and her father the evaluator.  Eva isn’t exactly sure what he father does, and so the book is about her father explaining evaluation in easily understandable terms, and Eva imagining herself engaged in the scenarios he described.  And, reading the book, I was pleasantly surprised with all the inside jokes, such as a cookbook titled “Preskill’s Chocolate Chip Cookies” and various evaluation theorists costumed as superheroes.

Hot Tip: Visualize the relationship like an hourglass.  I tend to be a visual person, and so I developed a picture of an hourglass with research on one side and evaluation on the other.  This picture illustrates how evaluation and research begin at different points and funnel to using the same methods to answer questions and analyze data.  They diverge again when it comes time to report on the outcomes (or processes) under study.

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

9 comments

  • Stanley Capela · February 22, 2016 at 9:08 am

    The chart is excellent I have never seen someone able to provide insight on the differences between evaluation and research in such a clear and understandable way. Excellent piece of work.

    Reply

  • Ask the Right Questions | Ampersand · August 31, 2015 at 8:20 am

    […] work closely with implementing organizations in developing countries to conduct RCTs. Using John Lavelle's diagram from an American Evaluation Association blog on the relationship between research and evaluation for illustration, IPA's work touches points on […]

    Reply

  • Ask the Right Questions | Ampersand · August 12, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    […] work closely with implementing organizations in developing countries to conduct RCTs. Using John Lavelle's diagram from an American Evaluation Association blog on the relationship between research and evaluation for illustration, IPA's work touches […]

    Reply

  • What Graduate Students Should Unlearn Before Becoming Evaluators | Learning Culture · March 25, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    […] what exactly does evaluation do differently than research? John LaVelle created an excellent visual to show just […]

    Reply

  • Science in Canada: Issues Affecting Trainees · March 27, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    […] […]

    Reply

  • Dreolin Fleischer · March 17, 2010 at 9:24 am

    John, I really found your visual helpful!

    Reply

  • Admin comment by Susan Kistler · March 4, 2010 at 5:28 am

    Bob, John is the coordinator for the blog. You can reach him at aea365@eval.org. Thanks for your enthusiasm!

    Reply

  • Bob Ketterlinus · March 3, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    John Can you contact me – want to ask you about the graphic and how you use it – would like to use in training manual rdk_associates@verizon.net

    Susan do you have John’s contact info – cant find it. thanks

    Reply

  • Admin comment by Susan Kistler · February 26, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    John – love the graphic! And was following along well until I got to “Make Research Recommendations” versus “Recommendations Based on Key Questions”

    I wasn’t clear what you meant regarding “Make research recommendations” and whether this was recommendations for future research?

    The editor in me wanted to make the construction parallel, something like “Make research recommendations” and “Make programmatic recommendations” (assuming we’re following a paradigm that is comfortable with recommendation-making) or “Make evaluation recommendations.” But I wasn’t clear as to the appropriate interpretation.

    Reply

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