Kylie Hutchinson on Befuddled by Evaluation Terminology?

My name is Kylie Hutchinson.  I am an independent evaluation consultant and trainer with Community Solutions Planning & Evaluation (  I give regular webinars and workshops on evaluation topics for both the AEA and CES and Twitter weekly at @EvaluationMaven.

The field of evaluation is rife with inconsistent yet overlapping terminology that stems from different sectors, funders, geography, and individual program areas. Although this terminology is underpinned by consistent concepts and theory, it regularly confuses new evaluators or program staff tasked with doing evaluation in their organization. Despite the fact that more and more funders are demanding increased evaluation activity, this inconsistency in terminology is not going to be harmonized any time soon.

Rad Resource: The free, searchable Evaluation Glossary Mobile App for iPhones and Androids.  This app provides immediate reference to over 600 evaluation, program planning, and research-related terms.  It is useful for:

  • new evaluators
  • program staff new to the area of evaluation
  • executive directors, program staff, and evaluators needing to interpret inconsistent evaluation demands from multiple project funders
  • evaluators working in international contexts
  • funders wishing to harmonize their use of evaluation terms.


At some point we also hope to have both a web-based and multi-lingual version as well. 

Rad Resource:  A Typology of Evaluation Terms. This work-in-progress is my attempt at grouping our overlapping terminology in meaningful ways and perhaps starting more dialogue on this issue.

Hot Tip:  Becoming an “interpreter” of different evaluation terminology is a useful skill for any evaluator who works in various program areas and across sectors.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


5 thoughts on “Kylie Hutchinson on Befuddled by Evaluation Terminology?”

  1. Pingback: Evolution of an Evaluator: Kylie Hutchinson | Sheila B Robinson

  2. I agree with your words. Your app should help.

    While people continue to be confused by the terminaolgy in use they will continue to invent their own terminology for their own specific problems and the terminology problem escalates.

    I would like to see evaluators using plain english (if that is the language it is written in)- plain english evaluation. New words or new meanings for words indicate to me someone who is either unable to communicate, someone who is trying to sell you something, or someone obfuscating.

  3. I’m loving this app! What a fabulous idea this is! I’ve just added it to my grad course syllabus under “Recommended Apps” (a brand new category, of course), and will introduce it to my students this week. Thanks Kylie!

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