Are evaluators responsible for making sure that evaluation results are used by those funding the program or running the program?
Or, should evaluators focus on providing results? Does our responsibility end once the results are disseminated?
This is something I’ve been thinking about for years, and this issue actually led me away from laboratory research and into program evaluation. I’m a huge fan of utilization-focused evaluation and feel personally responsible for making sure that the results of every evaluation project I’m working on get used to really improve the program.
Someday I’d love to survey a bunch of evaluators and ask them about this. I’m sure the answers would vary based on their prior training, and where they work, and their ages, and years of evaluation experience.
Sometimes evaluation use is out of my control, but usually it’s not. In fact, there are lots of things that evaluators can do to make it more likely that results are useful and get used.
Evaluators are not responsible for making sure that results get used to improve program. If evaluators are to assume responsibility, it has the very real potential of a scenario where there exists conflict of interest. It becomes difficult to uphold the integrity and objectiveness required of an evaluator if you have a responsibility to make sure that results get used to improve program. Also, making sure that it is used by program managers can entail eschewing the results or limiting the scope of the evaluation so as to present management with something that can be incorporated or altered.
But I understand what you are saying, that is that how do you strike a balance being wholly objective and making sure that your findings are used by program managers for instance, and that may have to do communication strategy to enhance the uptake of your results by program managers.
[…] Evaluation results get used to improve programs […]
Especially if evaluators are from outside, it is not possible nor practical to have them remain responsible to make the changes suggested–UNLESS there be a clause in the contract to enable the evaluators to become involved. I have done several of such contracts.
But even if evaluators cannot remain involved, the information they provide must have been properly collected, accurate and understandable.