Evaluation Methods, Methodologies and Approaches

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsInvited talkResearch


In this presentation I will use a case study research project to talk about the challenges that researchers can face in creating impact, as well as giving some advice and recommendations. The ‘Improving the evaluation of outreach’ project is funded by OFFA, DfE and the Sutton Trust. The goal was to understand what outreach work universities are currently doing and how they are evaluating this, as well as understanding what the challenges are. We used a sector survey and targeted interviews with 8 members of widening participation and outreach staff, and produced some recommendations for OFFA and evaluation guidelines for the sector, to help to create some common language and practice around outreach evaluation.

Challenges that this presentation highlights are the position of early carer researchers in projects, working with people in different disciplines and working with sector hopes and expectations. The presentation also highlights the benefits of working collaboratively with others to have impact. Understanding the context that others are working in, particularly those who you want to give ‘advice’ or recommendation to, is essential in having real impact. For example, in the case study project discussed, many outreach teams often had far fewer resources than expected, and they did not have access to programmes for things like data analysis. They also sometimes did not have support for thorough evaluation work from managers or buy-in from practitioners delivering the outreach. It is essential to understand all of this to be able to make suitable recommendations or to have real impact.

The presentation concludes by arguing that more support with producing work for other audiences is needed from universities. Many researchers are creating national and international reports, but they have no support with things like design. Some staff had to budget this into their research as the institution charged for all design work. There is very limited training for researchers to do this themselves, and it is questionable whether it is even desirable for researchers to be doing this, but at present there does not seem to be any other support available.
Period16 Nov 2017 → …
Event title‘Why Evaluate: A Widening Participation Sympoisum (Office for Fair Access).
Event typeConference
LocationSheffieldShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational