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What is evaluation?

Evaluation is the systematic investigation of the worth or merit of an object, and it is often undertaken for the purpose of improvement or to guide decision making.


What objects are evaluated?

The object can be a particular program, an initiative, a group of people, an individual, a project, product, and/or process. Evaluation takes place in most sectors of our society. Sectors that commonly employ evaluation include health and welfare, education, science, engineering, business, government, military, information technology, and transportation.

How does the investigation take place?

The investigation can include activities such as these: observing, surveying, interviewing, testing, experimenting, measuring, analyzing documents/products. When people or communities are the focal object, the investigation can include activities such as these:
  • identifying appropriate individuals and communities
  • involving the individuals and communities as collaborators in the evaluation
  • consulting and negotiating about evaluation procedures with the appropriate individuals in a community
  • creating a reciprocal relationship between the evaluator(s) and individuals and communities; giving back to the community
  • incorporating relevant indigenous knowledge, learning, and processes into the evaluation
  • ensuring privacy, integrity, and well-being of individuals and the community
  • recognizing and appreciating the diversity of indigenous peoples who have different languages, cultures, histories, and perspectives; identifying differences within an indigenous group
  • respecting and preserving intellectual and cultural property right


Two types of evaluation are commonly discussed: formative and summative.

Formative evaluation: Investigates process, development, or implementation. Results from the investigation are typically used to make changes in the way the object of investigation is structured or carried out. 

Summative evaluation: Investigates a final outcome, result, impact.

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