Why To Evaluate The Aims And Nature Of Educational Evaluation

The first and most basic aim of educational evaluation is to learn. The aim is the learning of all actors involved: their access to additional knowledge and to a new learning opportunity. The educational purpose is the inherent characteristic of what makes educational evaluation different from other kinds of evaluation.While evaluating, the actors involved learn to understand, to give a value and to draw conclusions on their own learning experiences. Through educational evaluation we learn from experience. The changes and actions resulting from educational evaluation become critical action and reflective praxis26.

All the actors involved in educational evaluation learn to express their knowledge: knowledge not of “topics” but of the relevance of their educational experience to their own lives. A certain educational activity might seem to be very good from a lot of points of view but in reality it might be disconnected with the life of participants, and vice versa. This relevance, and connection between youth work and the lives of young people, is probably the most important “knowledge” in youth work. Very often it is learned during the evaluation process. For Educational Evaluations in US visit UT Evaluators

In our opinion, and without wishing to ignore other purposes or diminish their importance,educational evaluation should first and foremost be put at the service of learning.

1 To motivate

The evaluation process should lead to improvements and change. Change, improvement, evolution and further development are factors of motivation for all the actors involved in the educational process. That is the reason why a constructively carried out educational evaluation contributes to maintaining a challenge and to fostering motivation within a project.

An evaluation whose results or process de-motivates becomes limited and incomplete because it cannot maintain the participation of all actors. Some participants might have negative and discouraging perceptions of evaluation. This can be a result of the fact that at times in formal education, evaluation (or more precisely put student assessment) is used as a mechanism to “select” or “exclude”.

However, achieving the objective of motivating while evaluating does not only depend on “recognising the achievements as well as shortcomings” of what is being evaluated. It also depends a lot on the attitude adopted by those involved, the atmosphere in which the evaluation takes place and on the imagination of the actors about what will happen after the evaluation results have been made public.

2 To participate

Educational evaluation is an opportunity both to promote the values of participation and to practice it. Obvious as it may seem, all the actors involved in the educational process should therefore also be involved in its evaluation. This participative dimension goes beyond the “democratic legitimacy” of changes to the educational process. It also has an educational dimension. It would not be coherent or consequent to aim for the promotion of participation in an educational activity but to evaluate the fulfilment of that aim in a non-participatory manner. This aim of promoting participation while evaluating has methodological consequences: in educational evaluation participatory methods are very important. Check for Educational Evaluations in US

1 To change and improve

As we have seen in its definition, change and improvement are integral to the process of educational evaluation.This idea of change is  generally assumed in an “operational” way: change of tools, formats, methods, places, targets. Change as a consequence of the accelerated changes taking place in our societies and in the reality of young people. In educational evaluation the changes also happen at the personal level: change of attitudes, of values, of ways of understanding. This “personal” dimension of change is often less visible than the “operational” one. But, both are equally important: educational evaluation requires openness to changing our ways of doing things as well as our way of thinking. Resistance to evaluation is often rooted in resistance to “internal” and “external” changes that might be required of an individual or of a group as a result of the outcomes of the evaluation process.

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