Practitioners and theorists have documented the benefits of user engagement and participation in evaluation and, at the same time, the value of neutral and impartial evaluative evidence. Yet producing both an independent and inclusive evaluation is a leading challenge in our field. In this practice note, we present one solution. We describe the design of an evaluation governance structure that was used to find balance between these two themes. We also identify key elements of this experience and present these for adaptation by others, given appropriate tailoring.
By offering a collective approach to the guidance of evaluation practice in Canada, the CES designation program creates a new environment for program evaluators. Its identification of competencies related to program evaluation and its requirement for ongoing professional development should facilitate the successful application of evaluation theories and models. This, in turn, is bound to enhance the quality of program evaluation and its relevance as an effective management and decision-making tool.
In its simplest expression, the purpose of program evaluation is to explore the logic that links a set of related activities to their expected results. Hence, program evaluation serves to determine the extent to which the logic of a program has unfolded as expected. A prerequisite to this assessment is to have a program (evaluand) that is adequately defined. This article explores the potential impacts of having an ill-defined or incomplete definition of a program that is about to be evaluated.