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Evaluation Terminology: Free Resources

Kylie Hutchinson is a Credentialied Evaluator and consultant to non-profit organizations, specializing in the areas of program planning and evaluation. She regularly presents webinars for Community Solutions Planning & Evaluation about topics such as the vast and often jargony world of evaluation terminology. As part of Hutchison’s research, she has consulted online evaluation glossaries, such as the OECD Glossary of Key Terms in Evaluation and Results Based Management and the US Environmental Protection Agency  Program Evaluation Glossary, and counted thirty six different definitions of evaluation methods within them. What accounts for so much variation? Common reasons include the perspectives and language used by different sectors and funders such as education, government, and non-profit organizations.

A helpful tip when working with organizations on evaluation projects is to ask to see copies of documents such as annual reports, mission and vision statements, strategic planning, and promotional materials, to learn more about the language they use to communicate about themselves. This will assist you in knowing if modifications in assessment terminology language are needed, and can help guide discussions on clarifying the organization’s purpose of the evaluation.

Hutchinson identified several common themes within the plethora of evaluation methods and created color-coded clusters of them within her Evaluation Terminology Map, which uses the bubbl.us online mind mapping program. She also created a freely available Evaluation Glossary app for use on both iPhone and Android mobile devices and has a web-based version under development. For additional resources to better understand health information outreach evaluation, be sure to visit the NN/LM Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) Tools and Resources for Evaluation LibGuide.

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