Using Evaluation to Strengthen Organisational Self-Assessment

Using Evaluation in Self-Assessment – an Overview

Evaluation can be useful in self-assessment as it provides a way of creating knowledge that can be used for improving organisational effectiveness.

There are many different approaches to evaluation, but most use quantitative and qualitative data to better understand what is happening in a programme or organisation.

Using evaluation enables a deep level of understanding to be gained by staff engaged in the process. The methods of evaluation involve dialogue, reflection, questioning and interpreting data and evidence. In addition, evaluation includes identifying and clarifying beliefs, and challenging assumptions and knowledge.

A TEO may use evaluative self-assessment to explore an aspect of its business it wants to know more about. The open-ended, key evaluation questions used in external evaluation and review could provide a useful starting point.

The tertiary evaluation indicators can also be useful as they present an understanding of what constitutes quality in the way TEOs operate and the outcomes they achieve. In addition, the indicators can be used to assist in:

  • defining the scope of a self-assessment activity or activities
  • framing evaluative conversations
  • identifying strengths, areas for improvement, and opportunities for innovation.

Building Evaluation Capability

Using evaluation in self-assessment can be a very challenging process and will be most successful when the organisation has a supportive learning culture and is committed to identifying areas for improvement.

An organisation that supports the use of evaluation in its self-assessment will typically:

  • value the diversity of its staff and the contribution each person makes to the organisation
  • engender trust between staff
  • support risk-taking and accept that some initiatives will fail
  • value lessons learned from mistakes.

Building capability in evaluative thinking will take time. Appendix 4 provides a checklist which includes a range of suggestions for how a TEO might approach this. The following figure presents some practice-based suggestions for implementing self-assessment.

Figure 1: Practice-based Principles for Implementing Self-Assessment

  • Be open to learning.
  • A collegial, inclusive process is critical to success and ongoing learning.
  • Take an all-of-organisation approach – this helps self-assessment be part of “business as usual” and is integrated into strategic and business planning. It also has symbolic value and helps leaders model relevant behaviours.
  • Self-assessment is an internal process – don’t contract it out. 
  • Take a team-based approach – bringing multiple perspectives to bear on data analysis yields richer and more valuable insights, increased awareness of other parts of the business and fosters a sense of interconnectedness.
  • Share responsibility – involve academic and support staff in an inclusive process. It is non-threatening so it evokes interest.
  • Invest and build in staff capability, for example hold training workshops to shift mindsets towards quality.
  • Self-assessment is ongoing – processes evolve over time and become embedded in business as usual.
  • Focus on things that impact most on student outcomes. Find new ways to ask questions about them, to test their contribution to the outcomes.
  • Be analytical. This will help build capability in using data and other evidence to inform the work.
  • Be evaluative. Determine what works and what does not and take the hard decisions if necessary.
  • Allow time and space – self-assessment needs to become internalised.

'There is a great deal of good practice out there but it’s not celebrated, shared or debated enough'

TEO staff

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