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Strengthening Evaluation Culture in the English Speaking Commonwealth Caribbean: A Guide for Evaluation Practitioners and Decision-Makers in the Public, Private and NGO Sectors

Persaud, Nadini

Nadini Persaud

Arawak Publications


In Press

evaluationstandards and guidelinesmodelsrole of stakeholderscost analysisresearch methodologyevaluation operationsreportingplanning and designing evaluation


In Press, USA

CHAPTERS 1. Evaluation as a Career 2. Introduction to Evaluation 3. Evaluation in the English Speaking Commonwealth Caribbean: Empirical Findings 4. Preparing for the Evaluation and Planning and Managing the Evaluation 5. Standards and Guidelines to Guide the Evaluation Study 6. Role of the Evaluator and the Various Stakeholder Groups in the Evaluation Process 7. Trending Evaluation Approaches 8. Research Methodological Issues 9. Cost Analysis—the Missing Component in Many Professional Evaluations 10. Evaluation Operations 11. Reporting FOREWORD Every important choice in your life, or in the career of your employer or government, is preceded by an evaluation of the alternatives. Sometimes the evaluation and the choice is easy, sometimes very difficult, and sometimes it’s easy to make the choice but not easy to get it right. For example, it’s easy to pick melons from a pile at the farmers’ market, but hard to pick good ones (without cutting them open). Many people believe they have a way to do this reliably, using the smell or the feel or the stem color, for example, of cantaloupes, but the evidence shows that even the market buyers working for the big chains are not much good at getting it right. And reading this book won’t make you truly reliable at that task either. But… But what it will do is make you much better at another set of evaluation tasks where the cost of an error is a thousand times more than an unripe cantaloupe. For example, if we make mistakes about whether a new injection actually immunizes the recipients against illnesses, your mistake will cost lives. The huge set of tasks like this that you will learn how to evaluate is called “program evaluation”. As you might expect, there are plenty of people who think they know how to do program evaluation, but most of them are wrong, as Dr. Persaud will show you by examples of the right way, which she does clearly, with interesting examples. So this is a valuable book, especially for the Caribbean nations for which it is targeted, but also for you in dealing with personal, local, and national issues on which you must vote. Michael Scriven Co-Founder, Claremont Evaluation Center PREFACE Program evaluation is a positive pursuit and should be of pervasive concern in every discipline and sector. However, although it is now a standard practice in many developed countries, it is actually quite underutilized in developing countries including countries in the English Speaking Commonwealth Caribbean region, and is conducted mainly to satisfy funding requirements. A primary reason for its underutilization hinges on the financial costs associated with program evaluation. Another reason is the lack of program evaluation culture in the region. Compounding these issues is a genuine fear of program evaluation due to misconceptions about program evaluation, and the negative perception that many stakeholders have of evaluators who are often viewed as agents with a mission to lay blame. Strengthening Evaluation Culture in the English Speaking Commonwealth Caribbean: A Guide for Evaluation Practitioners and Decision-Makers in the Public, Private, and NGO Sectors is designed to respond to the limited culture of program evaluation in the region and to demystify program evaluation. This book is particularly timely since it is important for the region to develop an evaluative culture in light of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda which the countries in the region have all endorsed in principle. This agenda advances that data, and by extension monitoring and evaluation, are the lifeblood of decision-making and are critical to sustainable development goal. Strengthening Evaluation Culture in the English Speaking Commonwealth Caribbean is designed and written to promote an evaluation culture since evaluation serves many useful functions including program assessment, accountability, transparency, and most importantly learning, and improvement. Since the objective of this book is to promote and build evaluation culture, the book is carefully crafted to avoid abstract and theoretical concepts and instead articulates program evaluation in a very realistic, accessible, and practical manner so that readers can be enlightened about program evaluation and be encouraged to do program evaluation and use program evaluation findings. Readers can easily understand why program evaluation is important, the environment needed to make program evaluation culture a reality, and the role that various stakeholders must play in the evaluation process. This book is designed for a wide cross-section of multidisciplinary users. It is suitable for those who have an interest in learning about evaluation including graduate and undergraduate students, evaluation sponsors and clients, and program administrators and decision-makers. It is also a valuable teaching resource for those who teach evaluation. Finally, evaluation practitioners will also find that this book is a useful resource that can either allow them to expand their toolkit of evaluation skills and/or refresh their knowledge in particular methodologies. A fundamental premise of this book is not to promote any specific way of doing an evaluation, but rather to equip readers with sufficient practical knowledge that will allow them to select an approach that is useful and suitable for the particular setting and culture, and also meets the needs of the stakeholders who will use the evaluation findings, whilst allowing collection of credible data. This book is designed to be appealing to readers. It provides a fresh examination of critical issues that must be considered in program evaluation, and uses creative and innovative graphics, figures, tables, checklists, and call-out boxes to make the learning process easy, smooth, and stress-free. Although the book carries a Caribbean title, it delivers a practical and professional teaching-learning evaluation resource that has universal appeal. This book can be read either in sequential format, or readers can also choose to read separate chapters to glean insight and knowledge on a particular topic of interest. One of the key pedagogical features of this book is its user-friendly format. This feature took center stage in the design of the book. As such, the writing is simple and clear so that anyone new to program evaluation can understand the basics of program evaluation and garner insight on important issues that must be addressed when undertaking program evaluation. Another important pedagogical feature is the creation of a comprehensive evaluation resource that can serve as a standalone evaluation handbook. Thus, this book discusses several trending evaluation approaches, along with the pros/cons of each approach, compiles some of the most influential evaluation standards into a central location using a checklist format which is easy for readers to navigate, devotes an entire chapter to cost analysis—a currently neglected, but essential component of professional program evaluation, and provides detailed guidance for planning, designing, managing, and conducting an evaluation, as well as reporting evaluation results. There are several motives that will entice you to pick up this book. Perhaps you are interested in a career as an evaluator and want to understand what this career entails. Or perhaps you are wary of evaluation and want to get a better understanding of your role in the evaluation process and what evaluation can do for your organization. Or, maybe you are a program administrator and want to understand how to improve your program through formative evaluation. Whatever your reason, this book is a good first choice to provide an informative and insightful perspective on program evaluation. In closing, I wish to take this opportunity to thank the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados for granting me sabbatical leave to complete this important work and for a research grant to collect data for the book, my Ph.D. mentor Professor Michael Scriven who has challenged his students to be champions for evaluation, my family for their continuous support in all of my endeavors, and most importantly my students and evaluation practitioners and decision-makers in the region for helping me to recognize that there is an urgent need for a book that can strengthen and promote program evaluation culture in the English Speaking Commonwealth Caribbean and other parts of the globe where evaluation is still not well established. Nadini Persaud


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