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Foundations of evaluation - In Person

An introductory course on evaluation, types and approaches. (Foundation Level) Price: £202.50 for SRA members, £270 for non-members.


"A very good introduction to the field, which will help new entrants and older practitioners to consider the question "I don't know what I don't know"?"

Course outline


Over the years the discipline of evaluation has evolved and developed and is applied to help shape the implementation and improvement of policies, programmes and initiatives for different types of organisations and funding bodies. Much is now expected of evaluation in the public, private and voluntary sectors and people responsible for commissioning, conducting and using evaluation are increasingly required to have a broad understanding of the evaluation types, skills and competencies. The course provides an introduction to this wide field and will be suitable for those new to evaluation and others who may have some experience but are looking to recap or widen their knowledge of evaluation options and practice.

*For those with more experience or needing more specialist methods, SRA also offers courses in Impact Evaluation Research and evaluation Project Management and Theory-based Evaluation. These courses are offered in online and also face to face formats.




By the end of the workshop, participants will:

  • Understand the distinctive role of evaluation in the effective use of resources and decision-making in publicly funded or grant-aided bodies.
  • Understand the importance of managing for expectations for effective purposing and realistic objective setting for evaluation.
  • Be aware of the key ideas behind evaluation practice and the different types of evaluation and their different purposes.
  • Understand how to make appropriate choices of evidence needs and methodological approaches for different evaluation types and needs.
  • Understand also design pathways and the principles of better practice design in developing and delivering evaluations.
  • Be aware of how to address ethical consideration in evaluation design.




The course will cover:

  • What is evaluation and why do we do it? The essential cornerstones of evaluation practice
  • When is evaluation in developing or improving policy, programmes and initiatives – ex anti, in-parallel, and ex-post evaluation?
  • An introduction to four different types of evaluation and some of the constituent (methodological) approaches within each
  • How to manage ‘user’ and stakeholder expectations to unpick wants vs needs and setting realistic (viable) scope and objectives.
  • Evaluation design principles and using structured and proportionate approaches to determining evaluation information and analysis needs.
  • Scoping and managing ethical considerations in evaluation; the three ethical constituencies and how to address them.

All participants will receive a copy of Prof. Parsons book ‘Demystifying Evaluation’ (Policy Press, 2018).


Who will benefit?


This one-day course is aimed at those with at least a basic understanding of social research methods but who may be new to specifying, conducting or using evaluation. It will be relevant to those specifying, managing and/or conducting evaluations. It will also be of value to those with some experience of evaluation but who have not been formally trained in methods and who are looking to widen or recap on their knowledge of this wide field.


Learning outcomes


By the end of the course, participants will achieve a broad understanding of the importance of evaluation and be able to make informed decisions about which types of evaluation are best applied to different types of programmes, projects and activities. They will gain practical experience of tasks relevant to scoping, designing and managing the evaluation process, as well as an understanding of some of the key challenges evaluators face in managing expectations and in ‘doing more for less.’


Course tutor


Professor David Parsons is a highly experienced policy researcher and evaluator of public programmes in the UK and Europe. He has held faculty posts at three UK universities, is a past advisor to the National Economic Development Office, European Commission, ESRC and UKCES, and former director of a successful policy research company. David has directed and co-directed numerous research and evaluation studies for government, non-departmental public bodies and others in the UK, and for international bodies. He brings to this course very wide practical experience of project planning, task and team management, and of how to manage projects responsively to meet project (and client) expectations on time and to specification.


  This course contributes 6 hours to the MRS CPD programme


9/15/2022 9:30 AM - 4:45 PM
GMT Daylight Time
NCVO Society Building 8 All Saints Street LONDON N1 9RL UNITED KINGDOM
This event is full.

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