If you recently heard the term "evaluation" but you're not quite sure what that entails, you're not alone. At the American Evaluation Association conference this October, president John Gargani joked with evaluators that their job is so unfamiliar to the general public that a new field, Cryptoevaluology, has sprung up to study their so-called-existence. Even as I type this post, my computer insists "evaluator" is not a word, and I mean to say "elevator".
I reassure you, though, evaluation is real! You can look up fancy definitions to double check me, but I'm here to give you the simple foundations to comprehend this growing field.
Evaluation is a systematic process to illuminate a program, product, or project by actively seeking feedback from its audience.
In my field, museums and informal educators evaluate a broad range of offerings, but might include a museum exhibit, a new approach to convey information to visitors (e.g. labels, audio tours, teaching technique), or a field trip.
So... what are the benefits of this illuminating process?