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Evaluative reasoning in public-sector evaluation in Aotearoa New Zealand: How are we doing?

Heather Nunns, Robin Peace, and Karen Witten

This article reports the results of a meta-evaluation of 30 publicly accessible evaluation reports written or commissioned by 20 New Zealand public-sector agencies during the period 2010–2013 to understand how evaluative reasoning is being practised in Aotearoa New Zealand. The reports were examined to find evidence of five key elements of evaluative reasoning, namely, evaluative objectives or questions, criteria or other comparator(s), defined standards, a warranted argument, and an evaluative conclusion or judgement. Only eight of the evaluation reports had evidence of all five elements. While the focus of the meta-evaluation was on the presence of the five elements (not their quality) and the report sample is not representative, the study provides an interesting snapshot of evaluative practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. The findings suggest there may be scope to improve evaluative reasoning practice.

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