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Is an in-depth study which takes place at a discrete point in time, and in which recognized research procedures are used in a systematic and analytically defensible manner to form a judgment on the value of an intervention. It is an applied inquiry process for collecting and synthesizing evidence to produce conclusions on the state of affairs value, merit worth significance or quality of programmes, projects, policy, proposal or plan.[1]

Conclusions arising from an evaluation encompass both an empirical aspect (that something is the case) and a normative aspect (judgment about the value of something). The value feature in evaluation differentiates it from other types of inquiry such as investigative journalism or public polling for instance.

Evaluation can be conducted for purposes of:

  1. Generating general knowledge about and principles of programme effectiveness
  2. Developing programmes and organizations
  3. Focusing management efforts
  4. Creating learning organizations
  5. Empowering project/programme participants
  6. Directly supporting and enhancing programme interventions (by fully integrating evaluation into the intervention)
  7. Stimulating critical reflection on the path to more enlightened practice

Evaluation should ideally be undertaken selectively to answer specific questions to guide decision-makers and/or programme managers, and to provide information on whether underlying theories and assumptions used in programme development were valid, what worked and what did not work and why.[2]

See also: A.D.D.I.E Model, Formative Evaluation


Characteristics of evaluation

  • Analytical – based on recognized research techniques
  • Systematic – carefully planned and using chosen techniques consistently
  • Objective – where the evaluator is as neutral as possible and avoids bias, values and or prejudice
  • Valid – internally valid because the causal link between the intervention and the observed effects is certain and externally valid because the conclusions about the intervention can be generalized and applied to other people, settings and times
  • Reliable – able to have findings that are reproducible by a different evaluator with access to same (or similar) context and using the same or similar methods of data analysis
  • Issue-oriented – address important issues relating to the program, including its relevance, efficiency and effectiveness
  • User-driven – the design and implementation of the evaluation should provide useful information to decision-makers.

Planing an Evaluation

Planning an evaluation entails determining what it will accomplish and specifying the methods and resources necessary to achieve the intent of the evaluation. Evaluation planning calls for the definition of key evaluation questions, description of the information to be acquired and its sources, data collection and analysis techniques, reporting protocols and required resources.[3][4]


Evaluation Design Matrix croped.jpg

Evaluation Approaches

Evaluation is generally considered as the final stage in a systematic approach with the purpose being to improve interventions (formative evaluation) or make a judgment about worth and effectiveness of the training intervention (summative evaluation).[5] Goal-based and systems-based approaches are predominantly used in the evaluation of training with the most influential approach being the Kirkpatrick model.[6] This model follows the goal-based evaluation approach and is based on four simple questions that translate into four levels of evaluation. The four levels evaluation are reaction, learning, behavior, and results. Under the systems approach, the most widely applied models include:

  • Context, Input, Process, Product (CIPP) Model[7]
  • Training Validation System (TVS) Approach[8]
  • Input, Process, Output, Outcome (IPO) Model[9]

View the key evaluation approach: Aproaches to trainning evaluation [[1]]

In the final analysis, the purpose of evaluating training programmes is to:

  1. Establish if the training intervention is fully meeting its stated objectives
  2. Make training programmes more efficient and effective in enhancing individual and organization performance
  3. Provide an opportunity for organizational learning with lessons learned being applied to improve service delivery and meet beneficiary expectations
  4. Determine the value (ROI) of the training intervention both to participants and organization

Evaluation Questions

Evaluation questions serve as a guide for an evaluation. They denote the scope of an evaluation and communicate to stakeholders the focus of the evaluation. A key evaluation question on the value of e-learning may be constructed as follows:

To what extent does the design and delivery of e-learning contribute or impede participants' learning and transfer of training to the job as compared with the design and delivery of face to face classroom based training?

Key evaluation questions are not the same as survey questions for the evaluation in that they are broader and more comprehensive than specific questions used in a data collection tool. They may be useful in determining the type of questions to be asked in a data collection effort.[10]

Evaluation Tools

Flow chart to determine if Level 1 evaluation is required [[2]]

Flow chart to determine if Level 2 evaluation is required [[3]]

Steps for conducting Level 1 Training Evaluation (for UNITAR training events) [[4]]

Link icon.png Web Resources
Below you have a list of selected websites where you can find additional information:
Link Content
10 must-knows about evaluation Here is a nice infographic with the 10 must-knows about evaluation!
DoView Software DoView is an innovative software which lets you use a visual approach to monitor, evaluate and communicate your outcomes.

MATERIAL.png Additional Materials
Pdf.png Key Trainning Evaluation Approaches

Pdf.png Flow chart to determine if Level 1 evaluation is required

Pdf.png Flow chart to determine if Level 2 evaluation is required

Pdf.png Steps for conducting Level 1 Training Evaluation (for UNITAR training events)

Pdf.png Evaluation Design Matrix


  1. Fournier M. Deborah in Mathison, Sandra. Encyclopaedia of Evaluation, pp 138, Ed. University of British Columbia. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2005.
  2. Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). Monitoring, Evaluation and Consulting Division, 2006.
  3. Imas Linda G. Morra, Rist C. Ray. The Road To Results; Designing and Conducting Effective Development Evaluations pp 240. The World Bank, Washington DC, 2009.
  4. Smith M. F. in Mathison, Sandra. Encyclopaedia of Evaluation, pp 345, Ed. University of British Columbia. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2005.
  5. Gustafson, K. L., & Branch, R. B. Survey of instructional development models. 3rd ed. Syracuse, 1997.
  6. Kirkpatrick, D. L. Techniques for evaluating training programs. Journal of the American Society of Training Directors, 13, 3-26, 1959.
  7. Worthen, B. R., & Sanders, J. R. Educational evaluation. New York: Longman, 1987.
  8. Fitz-Enz, J. Yes…you can weigh training’s value. Training, 31(7), 54-58, July, 1994.
  9. Bushnell, D. S. Input, process, output: A model for evaluating training. Training and Development Journal, 44(3), 41-43, March, 1990.
  10. Russ-Eft F. Darlene in Mathison, Sandra. Encyclopaedia of Evaluation, pp 355, Ed. University of British Columbia. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2005.