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

Aug/18

9

The core of evaluation: Evaluative Thinking by Tom Grayson

 

Hello Evaluators!  I’m Tom Grayson, former member of the AEA Board, recently retired as Director of Evaluation in Student Affairs at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Currently,  I am an evaluation consultant and facilitator.

I just finished reading the recent issue of New Directions for Evaluation, Number 158 Summer 2018, titled “Evaluative Thinking.” This issue offers a broad-based understanding of evaluative thinking. It’s edited by Anne T. Vo and Thomas Archibald. And it is just what the doctor ordered… a prescription for thoughtful evaluations. This issue reminded me of the novella, The Petit Prince, written by Saint-Exupery (1942). In this fable for adults, the Fox tells the Prince his simple secret: “One sees clearly only with the heart [reason]. Anything essential [in evaluation practice] is invisible to the eyes”.

Evaluators, regardless of the cross-disciplinary diversity in fields of work, must recognize that evaluative thinking is at the core of evaluation practice. Listed here are a few of our esteemed evaluation colleagues who have expressed their understanding of what evaluative thinking is about. Their thoughts regarding the importance of evaluative thinking are clearly stated and are echoed in the Summer 2018 NDE publication.

Lesson Learned:

Evaluative thinking is critical in our practice of evaluation, i.e., our systematic collection and analysis of facts in order to make informed judgments about the merit (quality), value (worth) and significance of whatever is being evaluated.

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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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