Recent research has shown that perceptions towards evaluation are not always positive. Some believe the purpose of evaluation is generally auditing in nature, to check we are doing the right thing. There are in fact many purposes for evaluation, monitoring is just one of them. There are many things we can evaluate: a process, an output, a program, a project.
Most universities support innovation in learning and teaching through the provision of small grants so that academics can trial and get feedback on new ideas and new technologies. At UTS our DVC Education & Students, Shirley Alexander has a long tradition of supporting learning and teaching innovation through small grants and projects. Following the design and implementation of any innovation, evaluation is a final important component to ensure we learn from the findings and then disseminate so we can feed forward to others who may build on or modify our ideas.
“But I have no time for evaluation. In fact I’m not even sure where to start” you may be thinking. Like most things in life if you want to do something well and get good results, you need a plan. Don’t start to think about evaluation in the middle of your project, or worse at the end when the final report is due. An evaluation plan can be a useful addition to a grant application to clarify what you will evaluate and how you will use the findings. There are many resources available to assist in this regard from organisations such as BetterEvaluation and the OLT. For a resource specific to small learning and teaching projects, an interactive and flexible online tool has been developed which allows you to use your own context to construct an evaluation plan for your project. This plan can also be used as a reference throughout your project and/or to guide your final report.