Evaluation criteria are some kind of standards by which a given project is evaluated. The evaluation criteria are directly related to the key questions and should therefore be formulated clearly and precisely. They are a kind of value system to which the evaluator refers at every stage of his research (A. Rowe,2019, pp. 496). Unlike the key questions, which are not evaluators, the evaluation criteria have a clear evaluation formula. They are a kind of prism through which the evaluator will look at the project under evaluation, indicating what is most relevant to its objectives and effects (A. Rowe,2019, pp. 496). Project evaluation is a complex and repetitive process, so the most important criteria for project evaluation are cost and time. Gathering knowledge about the status of a project is a very important element of control in terms of management paradigms (A. Rowe,2019, pp. 498).
Subjectivity of evaluation criteria
One and the same event may be assessed extremely differently if another value is used as the assessment criterion (M. Larsson, Hanberger A. , 2016pp. 190). For example, when assessing the training provided by a vocational reorientation project using the 'effectiveness' criterion, we find that the project has delivered the expected number of training courses and is therefore 'good’ (M. Larsson, Hanberger A. , 2016pp. 190-). However, when evaluating the same training using the criterion of "usefulness", we state that the project did not meet the expectations of its participants, and therefore is "bad". Depending on the criterion adopted, the assessment changes (S. C. Funnell, P. J. Rogers, 2011pp. 106–108). Therefore, the stage of selection of evaluation criteria requires close cooperation between the evaluator and the contracting authority in order to identify and select such criteria that will become the basis for evaluation of the evaluated project (A. Rowe,2012 pp.384)
The most frequently used evaluation criteria
The most popular evaluation criteria are (Højlund S., 2014, pp.428-446):
- Relevance (Conformity),
- Efficiences (Efficiency, Productivity, Economics)
- Utility ( Usability)
- Sustainability (Durability)
In theory, there are many translations of the meanings of the evaluation criteria. In simple terms, the definition of individual criteria can be interpreted as follows (J.L. Fitzpatrick, J.R. Sanders, B.R. Worthen, 2010 pp.22-25):
- Relevance: to what extent do the objectives of the programme correspond to the needs of its addressees?
- Efficiency: to what extent were the inputs proportional to the outputs, results?
- Effectiveness: what was the impact of the project's outputs on its results? To what extent did the project results meet its objectives?
- Cost-effectiveness - the lowest possible investment with established products,
- Productivity - the highest possible products at a fixed cost,
- Cost-effectiveness - best value for money (impact),
- Utility: to what extent do the results and impacts of the programme meet the needs of its addressees?
- Sustainability: how long will the positive impacts of the programme last beyond its end?
Hierarchy of importance of evaluation criteria
Effectiveness - first, the programme should be effective (achieving impact in line with objectives, needs). Effective are projects where the results achieved (results obtained from products) are in line with the intended (objectives).
Efficiency - The programmes with the best ratio of outputs (results) to inputs are effective (J. Gysen, H. Bruyninckx, K Bachus.,2006, pp. 95).
- Fitzpatrick, J.L., Sanders, J.R., Worthen, B.R., (2010), Program Evaluation: Alternative Approaches and Practical Guidelines. 4th Edition, Pearson, New York,
- Funnell, S. C., Rogers, P. J., (2011), Purposeful Program Theory, The Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation Vol. 27 No. 2
- Gysen J., Bruyninckx H. and Bachus K ., (2006), The modus narrandi: A methodology for evaluating, effects of environmental policy. Evaluation 12(1)
- Højlund S., (2014), Evaluation use in evaluation systems – the case of the European Commission, Copenhagen Business School,
- Larsson M., Hanberger A. , (2016), Evaluation in management by objectives: A critical analysis of Sweden’s national environmental quality objectives system, Evaluation 22(2)
- Rowe A., (2012), Evaluation of natural resource interventions. American Journal of Evaluation 33(3)
- Rowe A., (2019), Rapid impact evaluation , ARCeconomics, Canada; University of Victoria, Canada,
Author: Marzena Rusin