Frame the boundaries for an evaluation

Framing an evaluation involves being clear about the boundaries of the evaluation.

Why is the evaluation being done? What are the broad evaluation questions it is trying to answer? What are the values that will be used to make judgments about whether it is good or bad, better or worse than alternatives, or getting better or worse?

In this section

  • Clarify who will actually use the evaluation—not in vague, general terms (e.g. "decision makers") but in terms of specific identifiable people (e.g. the manager and staff of the programme; the steering committee; funders deciding whether to fund this programme or similar programmes in the future).
  • Clarify the intended uses of this evaluation—is it to support improvement, for accountability, for knowledge building? Is there a specific timeframe required (for example, to inform a specific decision or funding allocations)? If there are multiple purposes, decide how you will balance these.
  • Articulate a small number of broad evaluation questions that the evaluation will be designed to answer. These are different to the specific questions you might ask in an interview or a questionnaire.
  • Clarify the values that will be used in the evaluation in terms of criteria (aspects of performance) and standards (levels of performance). These will be used together with evidence to make judgements about whether or not an intervention has been successful, or has improved, or is the best option. Decide how different stakeholders’ values will be identified and negotiated.

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