Evaluation – why do we carry it out so rarely
Evaluation, i.e. systematic examination of the effectiveness of an initiative, serves to streamline, develop and better understand it. In the case of training, it translates directly into the quality of teaching. Despite this, we sometimes fear it, and often even treat it as a threat. How to convince yourself of it? Why should we use it from the beginning of the initiative? And how to get the most benefit from it?
On November 25, 2022, cross-sectoral workshops devoted to the needs, requirements, tools, and training standards in the design and evaluation of prevention initiatives were held in Warsaw. The event was organised as part of the INDEED project and involved representatives from various sectors, including the Police, Prison Service, probation authorities, as well as representatives of public institutions and universities.
The subject of the workshop was the training design in the field of prevention. Participants discussed both the available solutions and the spaces that need improvement. Such an exchange of experiences of practitioners and specialists allowed to indicate the areas on which the INDEED project should focus so that Polish recipients get the most value out of the prepared trainings. These recommendations concern the substantive side of training sessions, their form, tools, and methods used
One of the main points of the discussion was the training evaluation and the need to introduce it from the very beginning of the whole process. Unfortunately, it turns out that this way of verifying the value of the initiative is still not common enough in Poland. Participants pointed out that constructive criticism offered by evaluation is sometimes treated as a risk that can undermine the project itself. It is often observed to be implemented only for the sake of funding requirements and not out of an understanding of the need. Lack of experience in this area was also mentioned as a barrier causing late introduction of evaluation, improper application of it, and thus the inability to correctly use the results obtained.
Workshop participants sensitized that the obstacles mentioned above should be overcome so that subsequent training would bring more and more value to the future participants. Above all, a culture of evaluation should be promoted as a tool to improve work, not to criticize someone’s efforts. Appropriate funds should also be planned for this purpose already during the planning of the initiative itself and analysis should be implemented from the outset. A good step will also be the preparation of appropriate training in this field.
The discussion moderated by Marzena Kordaczuk-Wąs, PhD, our Expert in the field of counteracting radicalization, turned out to be very fruitful. The debate led to the collection of valuable opinions and recommendations regarding expectations for future courses. These will be used by the INDEED project to develop tailor-made programs and training materials for practitioners and institutions interested in prevention. Information about them will be published in the future on the project website, which can be found under this link.