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Thursday, September 20 • 3:00pm - 3:30pm
Transforming evaluation: Necessary but not sufficient to make a meaningful contribution to society

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Julie McGeary 

This presentation aims to challenge the notion that transforming the way evaluators practise will be instrumental in solving the main problems facing our profession. 

Drawing on the views of eminent evaluators, and the presenter's own sixteen years of evaluation experience in the public sector, it will be argued that transformative approaches to evaluation are necessary but not sufficient to overcome the constraints increasingly imposed by the authorising environment in which we operate. 

Few would disagree that evaluations should be relevant, meet market expectations and meaningfully contribute to society. These aims are not new; the struggle to achieve them is ongoing with mixed results. Audiences at the 2017 AES Conference in Canberra heard Sandra Mathison provide a gloomy assessment of evaluation's current ability to contribute to the public good. She offered three reasons for this: evaluation is constrained by the dominant socio-political ideology, it lacks independence, and it is a conserving practice, generally maintaining the status quo.

A decade earlier, Eleanor Chelimsky discussed the clashes that occur between evaluative independence and the political culture it challenges. She warned of the danger of focusing too much on the easier to control methodology issues, and being distracted from the much harder to control, but larger problem of evaluation's political context. 

Certainly, those who supply evaluations should keep abreast of emerging evaluation theories, practices and the potential advantages offered by innovative tools and technologies. Harnessing the technological advances and new ways of thinking can lead to profound and radical change in our practice and credibility. But in our urgency to transform evaluation, let's not overlook the context in which we operate. The social, political and cultural forces explored in this presentation ultimately determine whose values are considered, whose expectations dominate, and how meaningfully our evaluations are able to contribute to society.


Dwi Ratih S. Esti

Flinders University
I've been interested in evaluations since joining the Directorate for Monitoring, Evaluating and Controlling of Regional Development at the Ministry of National Development Planning of the Republic of Indonesia in 2007. At the moment, I am conducting an evaluation research as my doctoral... Read More →

avatar for Julie McGeary

Julie McGeary

Julie McGeary is an Evaluation Specialist with the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. She has been conducting and contracting evaluations within the government primary industries sector for over 16 years. She holds a Master of Assessment and... Read More →

Thursday September 20, 2018 3:00pm - 3:30pm AEST
Conference centre