Evaluation Terms: A Glossary

The terms here will help increase your general understanding of evaluation as well as search and navigate this site. The terms selected include the types and approaches to evaluation and standard research concepts.

The responsibility of leaders to provide evidence of project or initiative effectiveness to partners, stakeholders, and funders and that the project conforms to standards with its coverage, service, legal, and fiscal requirements. Adapted from Lipsey: Rossi, Peter H., Mark W. Lipsey, and Howard E. Freeman. 2004. Evaluation: A Systemic Approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
In arts- or humanities-based civic dialogue/engagement, the artistic process and/or art /humanities presentation provides a key focus, catalyst, forum or form for public dialogue/engagement on the issue. Opportunities for dialogue/engagement are embedded in or connected to the arts experience. In addition, the arts may provide a direct forum to engage in community planning, organizing, activism, and therefore is a form of arts-based civic engagement. Arts-based civic dialogue/engagement may draw upon any of the arts or humanities disciplines and the spectrum of community-based, experimental, mainstream, or popular approaches to making or presenting art. Individual artists or companies, community-based arts or cultural organizations, or large institutions, may undertake arts-based civic dialogue/engagement utilizing a wide range of artistic practice and dialogic and engagement methods.
The starting point for data collection, in the form of initial measurement, before a program commences. Later this measurement is repeated at key points, or at the end of the program, in order to compare the change.
An actual measurement of group performance against an established standard at defined points along the path toward the standard. Subsequent measurements of group performance use the benchmarks to measure progress toward achievement.
Each one of the things that you are evaluating, such as audience members, artists, participants in your program, volunteers, voters in your area, community leaders, members of the media, cultural and civic groups, schools, or theaters.
Animating Democracy has defined civic dialogue to specifically refer to dialogue about civic issues, policies, or decisions of consequence to people’s lives, communities, and society. Meaningful civic dialogue is intentional and purposeful. Dialogue organizers have a sense of what difference they hope to make through civic dialogue and participants are informed about why the dialogue is taking place and what may result. The focus of civic dialogue is not about the process of dialogue itself. Nor is its intent solely therapeutic or to nurture personal growth. Rather, civic dialogue addresses a matter of civic importance to the dialogue participants.
Civic engagement encompasses the many ways that people may get involved in their communities to consider and address civic issues. These include but are not limited to: joining committees or boards, volunteering, community organizing, participating in community planning or improvement efforts, and attending and participating in civic forums.
The process whereby evaluators identify and categorize similar responses to qualitative questions, in order to consolidate findings.
Views programs and the environment in which they operate as complex systems, whose dynamics have a high degree of connectivity and interdependence. The ramifications of changes are not readily apparent and can be difficult to understand. Diverse elements interact to produce unpredictable, emergent results. Solutions are tried. Problems are then re-examined in light of what was learned, and additional stakeholders can be consulted or included. This approach may resonate with innovative situations and is relevant in confronting stubborn social issues, like poverty, or policy making. (From The BrokerThree Approaches to Evaluation: Evaluation Evolution? and A Developmental Evaluation Primer)
A systematic process of reviewing qualitative data for recurrent issues and themes that emerge which are of interest to stakeholders, usually for the purpose of writing reports.