Types of evaluations

There is enormous diversity in different types of evaluations and evaluation methods.

The term evaluation covers a wide range of different types of studies. Some of the different types of evaluations are indicated below. The terms in italics are suggested search terms for further study.

The purpose:

Summative evaluations aim to identify and assess experiences (e.g. results) from a programme and are often related to the accountability function of evaluations, while formative evaluations aim to improve the design or implementation and typically aim more directly towards the learning function.

The timing: Ex ante evaluations are carried out before or early in a programme, mid term evaluations are carried out underway, while the more common ex post evaluations are carried out towards the end or after. Real-time evaluations follow the programme over a long period of time, either by a continuous evaluation process or by a series of separate, but closely related studies. 

The ‘distance’ from those having responsibility for a programme.

Decentralised evaluations are commissioned by those in charge of grant management or implementation of a programme to be evaluated, although normally carried out by external experts (although internal evaluations can be useful for some purposes). This may greatly enhance the learning potentials but perhaps at the cost of impartiality and external credibility. Centralised evalutions are initiated and commissioned by a centralised evaluation unit detached from those in charge of the programmes.

Evaluations commissioned by the Evaluation Departments are centralised, often ex post evaluations or real time evaluations aiming at a combination of accountability and learning, and hence having both summative and a formative dimensions.

Published 04.02.2016
Last updated 05.02.2016