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Evaluative Thinking

How do you feel about evaluation? Excited? Scared? Annoyed? Do you see evaluation as an integrated enhancement activity or an obtrusive compliance exercise?

There are many different forms and approaches to evaluation and it can be conceptualised differently depending on specific contexts and perceptions.

Michael Quinn Patton is an international evaluation expert and has recently published a set of Evaluation Flash Cards through The Otto Bremer Foundation. This collection of 25 single page reference sheets, clearly defines all aspects of evaluation interspersed with real-world examples. Patton distinguishes the need for embedding an evaluative way of thinking into a company’s organizational culture, as opposed to regarding evaluation as a ‘check-it-off compliance activity’.

If you are the recipient of a learning and teaching grant you will no doubt have a requirement to conduct some form of evaluation. For many this element may be put–off to the end of the project because of time limitations, but evaluation can and should be thought about through all stages of the project from planning or scoping through to implementation. If you are unsure of where to start with your own project evaluation, see the OLT’s comprehensive resources produced by Paul Chesterton and Rick Cummings.


Written by Elaine Huber (@enm181), Acting Director, Centre for Open Education, Macquarie University.

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