We would've missed so much impact if we hadn't asked them [community partner] how they felt it went.Practitioner, Science Oxford
Evaluating our work can be seen as a bureaucratic tick box exercise, required to ensure we are accountable for the outcomes of a project when writing reports. Whilst honest accountability is an important goal of evaluation, good evaluation should be embedded at all stages of the programme and should help us do our jobs better, more effectively and impactfully. Good evaluation can also ensure we are being equitable, that wellbeing is accounted for, and that expectations of participants are explored and met.
Enabling all stakeholders to take part in the evaluation process in an open and transparent way is the key to embedding the learning process for all participants. It reduces the risk that participants become subjects of someone else’s observation and research or are ‘left hanging’ at the end of a project without suitable feedback or understanding of their participation.
The first step is to think about who should be involved in the evaluation and learning process. The next step is to find out how we make a start.