Evaluation Research: Must the Messenger Always Be Shot?

22 July 2009 at 2:39 am


 Survey poster concept













A few months ago, I was lucky enough to have to write a short piece on evaluation for a consulting report. I reviewed what I had in my library, did a quick Internet search and decided it was time to bone up on the latest. So I took myself off for two blissful days in the university library in Lismore.


It was vacation time and I had the “evaluation” section all of the library to myself. The whole floor, in fact.


I loved what I read in recent publications, many in the esteemed Sage series. Wise old practitioners warning newcomers. Traps for young players. Helpful hints. Political and strategic advice.


Not what I had expected, actually”¦


As I read, I remembered my own (often painful) forays into formal evaluation, especially the large post-occupancy evaluation (POE) of public housing in Minto, Sydney in 1983 (see Minto POE questionnaire 1983 for the 1983 POE questionnaire).


And an equally challenging but very different study of False Creek North in Vancouver in 2007 and 2008.


I realised that evaluation is a highly political and sensitive realm. Often messengers get shot.


Do we have to get shot?


You can download my notes from my reading and other sources by clicking on this link: Evaluation of Community Engagement Processes


And there’s lots of information, methodologies and findings about the False Creek North study in this website as well. See:


Hopefully, by keeping abreast of the excellent advice available nowadays, none of us will have to face the firing squad for trying to evaluate programs, projects or policies.


Or community engagement.


I’d welcome your comments and suggestions.