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Evaluating Actions

What aspects of actions do we want to assess?
What can we learn from experience?
What can we improve?

Looking back

Evaluation is a very important part of any project or job. It is therefore good to get into the habit of evaluating everything you do from a young age. Do not wait for an adult to evaluate your performance - you can do it yourself!

The aim of evaluation is not to get a good mark, but to assess how far we have reached our objectives and to reflect on all that we have learnt that will help us to improve our actions in the future.

Here we will propose some techniques to help evaluate different aspects of actions.

Project evaluation

Gather your group together and sit in a circle to discuss the following aspects of your project. It is very important to take notes of the comments and to give enough space to each member to express his/her own ideas without judgement.

Aspects of actions:

  • General feedback about the action (how participants feel about the results of the action).
  • Internal organisation process (how participants felt during the implementation phase, how the tasks have been accomplished).
  • Internal communication among the group (how communications and tasks have been shared).
  • External communication (how stakeholders have been informed and involved in the action).
  • Lessons learned (what can be learned from the experience).
  • Follow up (what can be done next).

Personal evaluation

Three chairs

Sit with the chairs in a circle and leave three spare chairs. Write on the empty chairs

  • What I enjoyed the most
  • The main challenge
  • I would like to say...

Randomly ask each group member to move to the empty chairs and express in a minute their feelings about the action according to what the chair says. Repeat it until everyone has had the possibility to express his/her opinion.

Luggage, washing machine, rubbish bin

Take three posters and draw on each of them one of these things: luggage; washing machine; rubbish bin. Give three post-it notes of different colours to each group member and ask them to write as follows and then stick them onto the posters:

  • One colour of post-it for luggage - what I bring home from the experience.
  • Another colour of post-it for washing machine - what I enjoyed but could have been done differently.
  • Another colour of post-it for the rubbish bin - what I didn’t enjoy about the experience.

Cluster and explain the comments according to the main outcomes and invite participants to take turns for reflection and feedback.

How to give feedback

Feedback is a comment on something someone has said or done. It may be positive or critical in a negative sense.

Giving and receiving feedback is a skill and you will need to help the group members learn how to do it. Too often, feedback is received as destructive criticism even though this was not the intention of the speaker. The keywords with regard to feedback are ‘respect’ and ‘arguments’.

When giving feedback, it is important to respect the other person, to focus on what they said or did and to give reasons for your point of view.

It is better to say,
“I disagree strongly with what you have just said because....”
rather than
“How can you be so stupid, don’t you see that....?”

Giving negative feedback comes readily to many people, which can be painful.

It is important to find ways of ensuring that people give feedback in a supportive way. For example, by:

  • Ensuring that people start giving the feedback with a positive statement.
  • Respecting the other person and not make any derogatory remarks.
  • Focusing on the behaviour, not on the person.
  • Giving a reason for what they are saying.
  • Taking responsibility for what they say by using “I – statements”.

Receiving feedback can be tricky, especially when there is disagreement. Ensuring people feel supported and maintain their confidence is fundamental to the feedback process and helps them learn from their experiences.

Encourage people to listen carefully to the feedback without immediately defending themselves or their position. It is especially important that people understand exactly what the person giving the feedback means and that they take time to evaluate what has been said before accepting or rejecting it.