Evaluation Questions

This module from the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) outlines the process for creating and using different types of evaluation questions for a variety of purposes.


  • Sources of Questions
  • Three Types of Questions
    • Descriptive Questions
    • Normative Questions
    • Cause-Effect Questions
    • Examples
  • Identifying and Selecting Questions
  • Keys for Developing Good Evaluation Questions
  • Suggestions for Developing Questions
  • Hints
  • Summary
  • Quiz
  • Application Exercise
  • Further Reading and Resources
  • Answers


International Program Department for Evaluation Training (IPDET) (2007). Module 5 Evaluation Questions. In IPDET Handbook . (pp. 225-251). World Bank. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20150421132345/http://gametlibrary.worldbank.org/FILES/362_Develop%20Evaluation%20Questions%20-%20IPDET%20module%204.pdf (archived link)


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Evaluation Specialist, Better Evaluation.
Gold Coast, Australia.


Patricia Rogers's picture
Patricia Rogers

It's very helpful to have these different types of evaluation questions - descriptive (what are things like?), normative (are things good? what are criteria and standards for deciding that something is good?) and cause-effect questions (to what extent has the intervention produced or contributed to the observed outcomes and impacts?).

I'd add a fourth category (Drawing on Nick Smith's classification of evaluation types) - action questions (what should we do?). In an evaluation these are mostly answered in the form of recommendations. It is important to be clear that the information that is used to answer descriptive, causal and normative questions might not be enough to answer action questions - for example, we might know that the services are located on the other side of town to where the intended participants live, and that this is a major reason why they don't attend, but this doesn't tell us the best way to fix the problem. We would need additional information about possible solutions and their pros and cons to be able to answer this action question.

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