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Evaluation in dynamic times: Skateboard, pushbike, or quad bike?

Heather Nunns

The turbulent and fluid environment in which we find ourselves due to the COVID-19 pandemic requires evaluative responses that facilitate learning, adaptation, and timeliness. This article examines the last of these—the need for timely evaluative information. Such information requires evaluators and their clients making trade-offs between what is desirable and what is feasible in a constrained time frame. Applying a light-hearted analogy—skateboard, pushbike, quad bike—three different evaluative approaches and the trade-offs that each involves are described. The notion of adequacy for purpose is then examined in terms of two dimensions: the level of certainty of the evidence that is required by the client, and the level of confidence required by the client in the evaluative claim/conclusion. The article demonstrates the need for evaluators to ensure their clients and other users of evaluative information understand the level of confidence and certainty that can be placed in it.

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