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AES Workshop: What does the evaluator mean? Building the skills to understand evaluation reports and apply the findings to policy and practice

Evidence-based practice depends on skilled practitioners and policy makers to be able to extract and interpret and apply key information from evaluation reports. However, understanding evaluation reports, their limitations and language – and then making good use of the findings are essential skills in order to benefit from the investment in the evaluation process. This workshop provides the link between the evaluator and the evaluation user: users will learn what to look for and what questions to ask and evaluators will learn how to make their reports more accessible.

21st May, 2015
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The purpose of this workshop is to increase the capacity of people to critically understand evaluation reports and papers and to enable them to make sound decisions on the application of evaluation findings to evidence based decision making.

Through a combination of short lectures, individual and group learning activities, provision of templates and checklists to support all learning styles, the facilitator will guide participants through key stages and strategies of understanding evaluation reports and papers.

The sessions will include the following:

1. Making a start: How to approach an evaluation report through a critical lens of optimistic scepticism, asking the right questions and using proven strategies for step by step review without getting lost in detail or technical terminology.

2. Demystifying methodology: How to develop a visual map of the methodology and methods used and identify technical terms and concepts that require you to source their meaning and understanding the concepts

3. Understanding the key stages of methods and differences between qualitative and quantitative methods at each stage: How to break evaluation methods down into the three main stages of (a) sampling, (b) instruments and data collection and (c) analysis. This includes learning about the key difference between quantitative and qualitative methods, things to look for at each stage and how these impact results and conclusions.

4. Putting it all together: Through practical activities, the critical approach will be reinforced, enabling participants make better informed decisions on the appropriate and effective use of the evaluation report findings.

Who should attend?

This workshop is designed for those who commission evaluations and/or need to use evaluation findings to make policy and practice decisions. It will also be helpful for evaluators who want to understand either quantitative or qualitative research methods better and enhance their communication with evaluation clients. The workshop is pitched at people who have a basic understanding of evaluation language, logic and frameworks.

About the presenter

Samantha Abbato is a Brisbane based evaluator with more than twenty years of experience and strong methodological expertise across a range of qualitative and quantitative disciplines. In the past she has held university lecturing positions and published papers in both qualitative methods (epidemiology) and qualitative methods separately. As a consultant, she regularly applies a mixed-methods approach and regularly uses both stories (case study) and pictures (visualisation of quantitative methods) in her work. Sam's academic background includes a PhD and MPH Public Health (Epidemiology/Biostatistics, UC Berkeley), anthropology and mathematics. Major areas of expertise in evaluation include: Public Health, Communities and work with Indigenous, migrant and refugee populations.


  • Members $440
  • Non-members $605
  • Student member $220
  • Student non-member $302.50


Register online by 18 May 2015