2.4 What is evaluation?

The purpose of evaluation is to determine if a desired objective has been achieved and the factors that led to that achievement. Evaluation provides an opportunity for reflection on what has worked well and what can be improved. It can also assist in identifying positive changes that can be made to services or practices to advance children’s rights. It can also avoid repeating activities that were ineffective. Look back at the planning cycle in Figure 2.1 to see where evaluation is in the process.

Evaluation is a structured assessment of the extent to which activities that have been undertaken have resulted in achieving a desired change. This may also include an assessment of the factors that led to success or failure of a particular project or activity.

The main focus for evaluation is on outcomes. You want to know whether the action you took led to a desired change. This can be illustrated by returning for the final time to our example of the production of these education materials on child rights for health workers. Evaluation is less concerned with outputs (e.g. the materials produced), or indicators (e.g. the proportion of health workers that have access to the materials), and much more concerned with outcomes. An important example of this would be whether health workers now have better knowledge of child rights and what difference this is making in their practice.

Outcomes are the measurable results of activities or projects. If planned outcomes are achieved, the activities or projects can be said to have been successful.

Tools to assist with monitoring: outputs and indicators

Planning for evaluation