Around the Institute

Kafkaesque Evaluation?

August 15, 2014

Find Those Gifts

We know a good graphic when we see one, even if it’s about something as shady as the McDonnell corruption scandal. Now you too can follow which member of the McDonnell family received which lavish (and illegal) gift – the engraved rolodex, all-expenses paid trips, a shopping-spree in NYC…even yard work. This easy presentation of information, court docs and all, must make our data viz-oriented friends proud. Or furious.

How Participatory are You?

There’s been plenty of talk lately about participatory methods in evaluation and the multiple roles external stakeholders can play in the evaluation process. Thanks to researchers at the Université Laval in Canada, we now have a tool to assess these various levels of participation. The “Evaluation Participation Measurement Tool” scores you based on your answers to questions in three broad categories: extent of involvement, diversity of participants, and control of the evaluation process. For those doing this kind of evaluation, walking through this tool may shed light on areas that need special care and attention.

Enter Kafka

The Guardian’s George Monbiot had us at “Kafkaesque infrastructure of assessments, monitoring, measuring, surveillance and audits.” Yikes! Informed by a recent psychoanalytic study of our lives in a market-driven world, Monbiot describes a society where evaluation’s purpose is “to reward the winners and punish the losers.” Ok, this might be a bit over the top, but he may have a point. So here’s our call to action, evaluation folks: Let’s try to be a voice for humane and useful learning, rather than the intrusive, deadening bean-counting denounced here.