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The AES Awards for Excellence are evolving!

by Ian Patrick, Wei Leng Kwok and Farida Fleming, Co-Chairs, Awards and Recognition Working Group

The AES Awards for Excellence in Evaluation have a long history of recognising and promoting outstanding contributions to the theory, practice and use of evaluation. The awards acknowledge and showcase excellence in terms of professionalism, ethical conduct and the actual evaluation work conducted. They are important in terms of highlighting quality standards and cutting-edge practice. Details of previous award recipients can be found here.

In 2021, the AES will introduce exciting changes to the awards including new award categories, and an increased emphasis on learning. The AES Awards and Recognition Working Group (ARWG) which has responsibility for the AES Awards on behalf of the AES Board has recently completed a review of the awards program. The review was timely and enabled assessment of whether the awards were still fit for purpose and how they aligned with the AES strategic focus. The year of 2020 also allowed space for the review, as during this year the awards were postponed due to the COVID-19 situation. The review involved assessment of recent award performance, examination of the practice of peer evaluation associations, and interviews with key stakeholders.

 

Key findings that emerged were the need to heighten the strategic focus of the AES awards and to promote learning from the awards. The review found that the current AES awards were strongly focused on excellence of output or process, responsiveness to context and particular stages of an evaluation career. In contrast, other peer associations also include a category that relates to excellence in contributing to the progress of evaluation as a profession. Additionally, the review identified that several award categories did not receive sufficient nominations, or that an award category overlapped with other areas of AES business.

The renewed AES Awards for 2021 will see the introduction of a new category, the Award for Enhancing the Social Good. This has a key focus on the contribution of evaluation to society and is consistent with the greater strategic focus of the awards. The focus of several other award categories has been tightened while several others have been removed. The previous Outstanding Contribution to Evaluation Award, for example, was seen to overlap in intent with that of the creation of AES Fellows and has been discontinued. The following table summarises the changes to the awards in 2021:

awards categories

In 2021, a new emphasis on promoting learning from the awards will introduce activities such as special conference sessions featuring awardees and interviews with award winners on the AES website. Further details on the revised awards program will be released early this year. Award nominations for 2021 open in April.

 

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