4.6 Summarising the distinction between the forms and purposes of evaluation
Weiss (1998) argues that the distinction between formative and summative and process and outcome evaluation cuts in two directions. The first is based on when an evaluation takes place. Here there is a correspondence between formative and process evaluation because both are usually directed at what goes on inside a project or programme while it’s in operation and are typically designed to provide stakeholders with feedback on how to improve something. Summative and outcome evaluations focus on what has happened at or by the end of a project or programme (although as Weiss rightly points out, many projects and programmes have no definable end). However this correspondence is reversed when we consider that:
- formative and summative evaluation relate to the intention(s) of the evaluator(s).
- process and outcome evaluation are about the phase of whatever is being evaluated.
Remenyi et al. (2000, p. 27, referencing Adelman, 1996), make much the same point when they note: ‘...summative and formative are conditions of the evaluator in contrast to process and product, which are conditions of the evaluation’ (emphasis added). Figure 3 illustrates these relationships.