Alicia McCoy

Spring

Evaluation Literacy: Perspectives of Internal Evaluators in Non-Government Organizations

Authors:

While there is an abundance of literature on evaluation use, there has been little discussion regarding internal evaluators’ role in promoting evaluation use. Evaluation can be undervalued if context is not taken into consideration. Evaluation literacy is needed to make evaluation more appropriate, understandable, and accessible, particularly in non-government organizations (NGOs) where there is a growing focus on demonstrable outcomes. Evaluation literacy refers to an individual’s understanding and knowledge of evaluation and is an essential component of embedding evaluation into organizational culture. In recognition of the value of the internal perspective, a small exploratory exercise was undertaken to reveal internal evaluator roles and ways of engaging with colleagues around evaluation. The exercise examined a key question: What is the role of evaluation literacy in internal evaluation in the non-government sector? Three Australian auto-narrative examples from internal evaluators highlight evaluation literacy and locate it among the multiplicity of roles required for optimal evaluation uptake. Analysis of the narratives revealed the underlying issues affecting evaluation use in NGOs and the skills needed to motivate and enable others to access, understand, and use evaluation information. Responding to the call for expanded research into internal evaluation from a practice perspective, the authors hope that the findings will stimulate a wider conversation and further advance understanding of evaluation literacy.