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Wednesday, September 18 • 10:30am - 11:00am
Front-end loading: The value of formative evaluation in setting program focus: a case study of the Australian Volunteers Program

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Keren Winterford (University of Technology Sydney), Anna Gero (Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney), Jake Phelan (Austalia Volunteers Program)

This paper explores the practice of a formative evaluation for the Australian Volunteers Program and sets out why formative evaluation is valuable to setting program focus and defining approaches to impact evaluation. Reflections from independent evaluators and the Monitoring Evaluation and Learning team of the Australian Volunteers Program are provided within this presentation drawing together multi-stakeholder and practitioner perspectives on theory and practice of formative evaluation.

The overall objective of the formative evaluation presented in this paper was to map the global footprint of the Australian Volunteers Program in three impact areas in order to (i) establish a baseline; (ii) inform strategic options for strengthening engagement in the impact areas and; (iii) propose methodology for demonstrating outcomes in impact areas. The three impact areas of Inclusive economic growth; Human Rights; and Climate Change/Disaster Resilience/Food Security are informed by the Australian Government Volunteers Program Global Program Strategy. Rather than setting out evaluation findings, the paper explores the practice of collaborative evaluation design; use of mixed methods including key informant interviews, document review, and quantitative analysis to prepare working definitions of impact areas. We explore the practice of drawing on local (country contexts) and global measures (Sustainable Development Goals) to define impact areas and how we have made sense of these to apply to the Australian Volunteers Program.

The paper distinguishes the theory and practice of formative evaluation and sets out the unique contribution it offers to policy and programming agendas. The paper talks about the value of evaluation across multiple points in the project cycle and value of linking formative and summative evaluations as highlighted within this case. Informed by this case study, the presenters offer tips and tricks for those commissioning and conducting evaluations to ensure formative evaluations provide best contribution to policy and programming agendas.

avatar for Kiri Parata

Kiri Parata

President, Australian Evaluation Society
Kia ora I'm Kiri, living on Kabi Kabi Country on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. I share my time between here and my home in Aotearoa New Zealand where my iwi (tribal) affiliations are Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Toarangatira, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Ruanui, and Ngāi Tahu. I'm completing... Read More →

avatar for Keren Winterford

Keren Winterford

Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney
Dr Winterford has 20 years of work experience working in the international development sector, in multiple capacities with Managing Contractors, NGOs, as a private consultant, and more recently in development research. She currently provides research and consultancy services for numerous... Read More →
avatar for Farooq Dar

Farooq Dar

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Advisor, Australian Volunteers International
Farooq has accumulated 15+ years of experience as an international development practitioner designing and managing complex multi-sectoral humanitarian and development programs/projects, working on governance, compliance and policy issues across various countries around Asia including... Read More →
avatar for Anna Gero

Anna Gero

Research Principal, University of Technology Sydney
Anna Gero is a climate change and disaster risk leader and specialist with over 10 years experience in the Asia-Pacific region. She is an experienced project manager, and has led climate change and disaster resilience consultancies, evaluations and research projects since 2008 across... Read More →

Wednesday September 18, 2019 10:30am - 11:00am AEST