Strengthen evaluation capacity

Evaluation Capacity Building, Evaluation Capacity Development, Evaluation Capacity Strengthening, Evaluation Capability Development

An important aspect of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) ‘systems’ is strengthening the M&E capacity of individuals, organisations, communities and networks.  While there are other terms used for this, we suggest using the term ‘evaluation capacity strengthening’ to emphasise the value of recognising, reinforcing and building on existing capacity. M&E capacity is not just about developing competencies for doing M&E.  It also includes competencies in effectively designing, managing, implementing and using M&E. It includes strengthening a culture of valuing evidence, valuing questioning, and valuing evaluative thinking. 

M&E capacity strengthening involves more than just one-off training, and training may not necessarily be the most appropriate way to address a capacity-strengthening need. 

When planning evaluation capacity strengthening, it can be helpful to pay attention to different types of capital - human capital (knowledge and skills), organisational capital (technical infrastructure and processes) and social capital (supportive networks).

It can also be useful to consider three broad change theories (drawing on Mitchie et al. 2011 meta-theory of behaviour change): (1) increasing motivation; (2) increasing capacity; and, (3) increasing opportunity –including an enabling environment for M&E.


Increasing skills and knowledge

A range of options related to various strategies to increase skills and knowledge - among evaluators, others doing evaluation, and people who oversee monitoring and evaluation systems (for example, program managers).

Competency assessment

  • Self-assessment: Individual reflection on one's skills, knowledge and attitudes related to evaluation competencies

  • Peer-assessment: A form of assessment which provides additional benefits beyond self-assessment – in particular, the opportunity for peer learning through the review process.

Knowledge, skills, attitudes (KSA) development and ongoing development

  • Coaching: Supporting an individual during training or development in order for them to reach a specific personal or professional goal.

  • Dialogues: A range of learning conversations that go beyond knowledge transfer to include knowledge articulation and translation.

  • Expert advice: Advice from experts in response to specific queries. It might include a process to clarify and reframe the question that is being asked.

  • Fellowship: An extended position that provides paid employment and support for people who have completed formal coursework in  evaluation.

  • Internship: A paid or unpaid entry-level position that provides work experience and some professional development.

  • Mentoring: Supporting a colleague by sharing professional and personal experiences in order to support their development and growth

  • Learning Circle: Allows a group of individuals to meet and explore an issue and learn from each other in the process.

  • Peer learning: An approach to learning where tacit knowledge is transferred from practitioner-to-practitioner. Peer learning can have many different objectives and take a number of forms.

  • Reflective practice: Involves an individual reflecting on their work allowing them to learn from their own experiences and insights and engage in a practice of continual learning.

  • Self-paced learning: Viewing learning materials, such as previously recorded webinars, at your own pace. 

  • Supervision of practice: A model of professional development from social work where everyone, even experienced practitioners, is expected to have regular debriefing and reflection with a senior person on issues in their work.

  • Training and formal education: Development of knowledge and skills in conducting and/or managing an evaluation in a structured setting.

Building and sharing knowledge

  • Community of practice: A community of practice allows a group of people with a common interest or concern to share and learn through a series of interactions, thus reflecting the social nature of human learning.

  • Conferences: Attendance at professional conferences helps people to identify relevant examples and further guidance, reflect on their work and get feedback on it, and form networks for peer support and review.

  • Evaluation Library: This provides access to print and/or digital resources such as evaluation guides, manuals and textbooks, and evaluation reports

  • Evaluation journals: These play an important role in documenting, developing, and sharing theory and practice

  • Learning partnerships: Involve structured processes over several years to support learning between a defined number of organisations working on similar programs, usually facilitated by a third party organisation.

  • R&D projects: Knowledge construction through research and development.

Other strategies

Reference points for professional practice

These reference points can be used to guide activities aimed at increasing capacity – for example, when developing a training course or a peer learning program – or activities aimed at increasing motivation – for example, supporting a shared professional identity to motivate individuals.  

Engagement with professional associations

Professional associations play an active role in supporting capacity development – for example, by offering workshops and encouraging the development of supportive professional relationships.  They can also contribute to motivation by providing inspirational exemplars of practice and practitioners.

  • Evaluation societies and associations: Promote the sharing of ideas, best practice, current research and projects, and can be involved with the running of events, conferences and training workshops or courses.

  • Other professional associations: Associations from different but related sectors and fields can be useful places to find useful events and training, network connections, and ideas.

Public recognition of good practice

  • Awards: A formal recognition by peers to outstanding individuals or evaluation studies

  • Fellows: A category of membership of an association or society, often awarded to an individual based on their contributions to evaluation, such as evaluation teaching, research and practice, and on the individuals contributions to the society, primarily in relation to its aims and operations.

Increasing opportunity for professional practice

A range of options for building a better informed and motivated demand side of evaluation and a more conducive enabling environment. Some relate to educating the public and evaluation managers and users about evaluation and evaluators, and others relate to engaging in wider organisational and public processes with implications for evaluation practice.

Educating the public and evaluation managers and users

Strengthening the enabling environment for good evaluation practice

  • Engagement in relevant organisational processes: Engaging in processes to embed evaluation in organisational processes, especially those involving strategic changes to the way government and non-government organisations plan, manage and implement. 

  • Engagement in relevant public processes: Engagement in public discussions about relevant issues, especially those involving strategic changes to the way government and non-government organisations plan, manage and implement or how data are gathered, reported and used.

Review of practice

Some options which relate to the task ‘Evaluate evaluation’ can be used as part of evaluation capacity strengthening, as they can both improve a specific product and also develop internal skills and knowledge:

  • Expert review: Involves an identified expert providing a review of draft documents at specific stages of a process and/or planned processes. For an evaluation, these might include: evaluation brief; Terms of Reference; evaluation design or plan; evaluation report; M & E framework.

  • Peer review: Like expert review, peer review involves a review of draft documents at specific stages of a process and/or planned processes. However, rather than being done by an acknowledged expert, the review is done by a peer. It can be done reciprocally where a pair of peers review each other’s work.


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Max Moisel

Intéressé par tout ce qui est suivi évaluation