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Blog: Evaluation - child's play?

Tom Scott, ESS Training Officer explains why ESS is launching a programme of new training workshops and what’s different about Let’s evaluate!

ESS is redeveloping its training materials and evolving the way we deliver our training courses.

At ESS we feel learning about evaluation must be fun. Ensuring our materials are practical, and that we provide a relaxed atmosphere which encourages discussion and learning, has always been our aim.  Now I want to go further and make our training as playful, creative and exploratory an experience as possible that inspires, just as much, as it reassures.

I have a 3 year old son and when he is trying to work out something that is new and difficult he doesn’t worry what he looks like to others while he is learning. He doesn’t worry that he might make mistakes. He doesn’t worry that some of the things he learns might question his previous ideas. He just explores the challenge as best he can, and when this interaction is playful rather than mundane, he learns much better and retains more for longer. As we get older we lose that ability to ‘learn through play’ however, learning in this way helps adults learn just as much as children, which is why we have revised our workshops with this thinking in mind.  Let me explain more.

Our training and support has always received strong participant feedback and our evaluation shows that we make a difference. So why do I want to change anything?!? ESS has learned a great deal about what our training currently looks and feels like through our “Training the Trainer in Evaluation” programmes with The Alliance and Voluntary Action Scotland. We have also seen what we could achieve through our training if we sought to make the courses more playful and collaborative while also providing more space for people to reflect on their own practice.

Pictured: Evaluation Game by Leapfrogtools

I also want to improve our training materials, and our thematic work is having a strong influence on this. We recently published “Why bother involving people in evaluation?”  This work has developed our thinking on evaluation methods. ESS is moving away from the dichotomy of traditional and creative methods of evaluation, and instead is looking at the extent to which a participant has influence over the design and delivery of, and interaction with the evaluation method. To put it simply, this means there will be even more opportunity for discussions during the workshops and more ideas for you to involve people you work with to find the best evaluation method to use.

ESS’s understanding of how we can best support people is continuing to improve, whilst at the same time we are being asked for more complex issues to be covered in our training. We have not only redeveloped our current training but we are also writing new advanced courses, naming the programme, Let’s evaluate! This is an exciting time for us here at ESS and especially for me as the Training Officer. I look forward to seeing you at one of our new training days!

ESS’s Let’s evaluate! programme is made up of starter and advanced workshops:

Starter workshops:   

Advanced workshops:

  • Theory of Change: Introduction to Logic Modelling
  • Storytelling and Writing Case Studies
  • Evidence for Success: Using evidence to influence policy and practice

And an Embedding workshop for those completing any of the workshops during the year:

  • Learning from Evaluation

Book online here

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