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AES Blog

This is the AES Blog, where we regularly post articles by the Australasian evaluation community on the subjects that matter to us. If you have an idea, please contact us at . Blog guidelines can be found here.

 

Ethical practice in evaluation is everyone’s business

by Keren Winterford

Applying ethical principles in evaluation is about making fair and just choices relevant to the context, culture of participants and evaluation purpose. In fact, whenever we speak to a person – a participant or stakeholder - as part of an evaluation, we need to think about ethics.

Why? Because this type of thinking ensures that our practice, at a bare minimum, is risk management, and adheres to the fundamental principle of ‘do no harm.’ It also shapes your relationships with participants and stakeholders as one of trust, mutual responsibility and ethical equality.

It is only through such practice that evaluation provides an important contribution to effective policy and change.

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Evaluator Career Pathways

by Charlie Tulloch

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As we move into 2021 after an interrupted 2020, it is a good time to reflect on the place of evaluators in the working world. It is clear that many sectors and vocations have been forced to significantly upscale, downscale or adapt to changing economic and global circumstances.

Fortunately for us, there remains a central role for evaluation to play in the face of increasing challenges, demanding an ongoing need for analysis of policy and program successes and failures. Indeed, evaluators now face an increasingly diverse set of choices when it comes to defining their career directions.

The final Australian Evaluation Society's Victorian seminar of 2020 explored this topic in depth, drawing on the wisdom and experiences of six fantastic evaluators of different ages, genders, study backgrounds and vocational sectors (academia, private, government, international development, philanthropy). This article reflects on the insights from this session.

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Systems Thinking in the Sunshine State

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by AES QLD Committee Members

Evaluators in the AES network are increasingly being challenged to apply evaluative thinking, methods and tools to innovative, emergent, place-based or otherwise complex initiatives. These initiatives often seek to achieve improvements not only in individuals and institutions, but in the systems that hold 'wicked' societal problems in place. The desired systems-level outcomes are often difficult to define, predict and measure and can change and evolve as the implementing organisations learn which strategies are most effective in reaching their goal.

In response, a recent issue of the AES QLD regional committee's newsletter focussed on resources, methods and mindsets to support members to in evaluating  complex systems change initiatives. Here are the take-outs.

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Evaluation in the COVID-19-shaped “new normal”

by Eleanor Williams

COVID-19 has, for many, been a time of adaptation and creation of a new sense of normality.  As we move away, gratefully, from local crisis management, we have the opportunity to reflect on not only our own resilience through this time, but what we have learned and how we have adapted through adversity. 

Eleanor Williams from the Centre for Evaluation and Research Evidence, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the Australian Public Sector Evaluation Network shares her reflections on Evaluation Adaptation through COVID-19.

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Realist evaluation in practice: an interview with Brad Astbury

by Eunice Sotelo & Victoria Pilbeam

Many evaluators are familiar with realist evaluation, and have come across the realist question “what works for whom, in what circumstances and how?” The book Doing Realist Research (2018) offers a deep dive into key concepts, with insights and examples from specialists in the field.

We caught up with Brad Astbury from ARTD Consultants about his book chapter. Before diving in, we quickly toured his industrial chic coworking office on Melbourne’s Collins Street – brick walls, lounges and endless fresh coffee. As we sipped on our fruit water, he began his story with a language lesson.

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Bridging the Research to Practice Gap in Evaluation

by Rachel Aston, Ruth Aston, Timoci O’Connor

How often do we really use research to inform our evaluation practice? Many of us tend to use research and evidence to help us understand what we are evaluating, what outcomes we might expect to see and in what time frame, but we don’t often use research to inform how we do evaluation.

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Shoestring evaluations – 5 tips to tie them up

By Ruby Fischer

Evaluations are like diets – you know they’re good for you, you always start off with good intentions and desperate optimism, but eventually you slip back into your old habits. So how do you stick to them? Here are 5 tips from AES NSW’s latest seminar on how NGOs can stick with evaluation in our do-more-with-less world.

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The smallest Russian Doll… a practitioner’s take on developmental evaluation

By Zazie Tolmer

Late last year an opportunity came up for a Clear Horizon consultant to work full time as an embedded evaluator in a Collective Impact initiative. I jumped at the opportunity and have been part of the backbone team for the last eight months.

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Evolving the evaluation deliverable: Ideas from #aes18LST workshop participants

By Gerard Atkinson

Have you ever felt like you have put in a lot of work on an evaluation, only to find that what you have delivered hasn’t had the reach or engagement you expected? I’m not sure I have met an evaluator who hasn’t felt this way at least once in their career.

It was because of this that late last month I led a session at the 2018 Australasian Evaluation Society conference in Launceston, titled “Evolving the evaluation deliverable”.

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Igniting the evaluation fire – lessons from my first Ignite presentation

By Liz Smith

At the 2018 AES conference, Ignite presentations were introduced to light some fire in our evaluation belly. Ignite presentations are a set formula of five minutes and 20 slides with each slide advancing automatically after 15 seconds. Presenters have to concisely and quickly pitch their idea.

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