More and more professional groups and sectors face a demand to demonstrate the effectiveness and value of the work they provide.
However, this requirement often outstrips the evaluation experience and skills available within these sectors. We are currently helping address this gap through the delivery of tailored evaluation courses as well as considering how we can build on our experience to develop further training.
The Tavistock Institute has been developing and delivering tailored courses in evaluation skills for over 10 years, with a strong focus on the development of ‘in house’ evaluation skills in organisations who need to undertake evaluation and demonstrate the value of their own work. One example of this was the development and delivery of tailored courses, and guidance, for those involved in the design and delivery of Prevent (Preventing Violent Extremism) projects and programmes.
Currently we are delivering a series of one day ‘introduction to evaluation’ courses to economic and social science analysts working across government departments with the aim of filling a training gap identified by the Cross Government Group on Evaluation (CGEG). A central aim in this course is one of equipping new entrants to the Civil Service with a better grounding in good evaluation, in order to improve the quality of evaluation – and particularly the commissioning of evaluation – across government. The course is being delivered on behalf of Capita (in partnership with Civil Service Learning), who provide courses and learning resources for developing skills common to all civil servants.
Alongside this, we have also been providing a more generic introductory course for policy makers, as part of the Department of Transport’s strategy of enhancing the culture of evaluation in the transport policy field, and building the evaluation capacity of its staff.
Our course participants have generally welcomed the fact that, alongside the input of information about current policy, theory and practice in the field of evaluation, the days also provide a number of opportunities to put these ideas into practice, working on a ‘case study’ related to their own field of experience. This includes the development of a ‘theory of change’, and exploring how this can help in identifying suitable evaluation questions and data collection methods of the particular policy, programme or project under evaluation. Participants are also provided with a tailored ‘resource pack’, signposting where additional support and information can be found. This includes links to some of the resources we have developed here at the Tavistock Institute, such as our Guidance for Better Attribution in Transport Impact Evaluation and Logic Mapping Hints and Tips, a step-by-step guide on logic mapping.
What participants thought of the courses:
‘An excellent course, covering the broad universe of evaluation and the strengths and weaknesses of different evaluation approaches’.
‘Extremely digestible and very practical course. Inviting participants to draw on the their experiences was particularly illuminating’.
‘A great introduction to evaluation, which covered a broad range of items which researchers in Government encounter in their work’.
‘Well run session and highly relevant for my work. Overview of the different evaluation models, the theory of change mapping and working through the case study was particularly helpful, as it made the principles clear and gave us practice’.
We are currently considering how best to build on this experience in order to develop new evaluation training offers. Two ideas currently being explored are the idea of providing bespoke training in the development of ‘theories of change’ and a new professional development offer for those with some experience of commissioning and undertaking evaluations, building on our recent ‘dynamics of evaluation’ lunch time events.
Watch this space for more information on these upcoming offers.