Pick who needs to be involved and how

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This step takes you through who needs to be involved in the evaluation, both as stakeholders and the ‘evaluation team’, and what roles they will play.

While it can be tempting to skip this step (especially if evaluations are largely one person’s responsibility), setting out key roles for the evaluation shows where there might be gaps or where additional resources / people are needed.

It’s critical to make sure people involved support a robust and fair evaluation. 

By the end of this step you will have:

  • Identified your stakeholders and how they need to be involved.
  • Allocated roles in a way that best suits the purpose of your evaluation.
  • Considered how to make your evaluation independent.

Identify your stakeholders and how they need to be involved

This is all about getting the right people involved from the beginning. It involves having a few conversations upfront. You can use these conversations to test whether people agree with what you’re trying to achieve. 

A stakeholder is someone who might be interested in your evaluation. It’s best to identify your stakeholders early so everyone knows what’s expected of them throughout the process.

Use the following list of common stakeholders as a starting point to identify who is relevant for your evaluation:

  • School leadership, e.g. school principal and potentially the school council.
  • Business leadership e.g. CEO or heads of department/divisions.
  • Other key staff in organisation.
  • Staff who will be running the evaluation.
  • Staff who have been involved in the initiative.
  • Students involved in the initiative, and/or their parents.

Generally, different stakeholders need to be involved in different ways, ranging from simply being informed through to having an active role in the evaluation.

Consider the extent to which each of your stakeholders needs to be involved. For example:

  • Funders and managers of the initiative (who could include principals, business CEO, senior staff, school council), and any key partners should be involved early to make sure their expectations align with the evaluation. For example, make sure you are on the same page about the purpose of the evaluation. It might be useful to think about funders and managers as the ultimate ‘client’ for the evaluation. This is because they are likely to be responsible for changing or making decisions about the initiative.
  • Teachers, staff and students need to be informed about the evaluation because they may be asked to participate in it or help gather information. These stakeholders are discussed again when you consider how to gather the evidence you need.
  • Other stakeholders such as parents, teaching communities or relevant interest groups (e.g. the Australian Science Teachers Association) might be interested in the evaluation, but do not need to contribute directly to it. These groups may appreciate a heads-up that the evaluation is taking place, and may also be an audience for evaluation reports. You may wish to seek further guidance about communicating results to stakeholders. See the Make decisions, share the news page for more information.

Allocate roles in a way that is fit for purpose

For your evaluation, you need to identify someone for each of four key roles. Sometimes one person will have more than one role. For example, the leader and co-ordinator is often (but not always) the same person.

Role What they do Who they often are

Identify what the evaluation will be measuring

Draw conclusions from results

Person involved in initiative or is interested in it

Organise research and evidence or communications for stakeholders

‘Own’ the process so each step of the evaluation is followed and recorded

Person involved in initiative or other school / business staff
Researcher Gather evidence, e.g. run interviews or focus groups Hired researchers or staff not involved in initiative
Peer reviewer Provide feedback with some level of independence Teachers or staff who were not part of initiative

In some cases, one person might fill more than one of these roles. However, you should consider bringing on additional resources if the initiative you are evaluating is:

  • large (e.g. involves a majority of students at a school)
  • significant (e.g. affects teaching of an entire subject)
  • sensitive (e.g. might impact certain jobs, or the initiative is controversial)

Consider how to make your evaluation independent

If people involved in the evaluation are also involved in the initiative, there should be checks and balances included in the evaluation to reduce bias, or the perception of bias. There are different ways to achieve this.

The best way is to commission an individual or group entirely separate from the initiative to complete the evaluation. There are specialist organisations that run evaluations as their business. However, this tends to be expensive, and can be complicated to arrange. This approach isn’t necessary or appropriate for all STEM education initiative evaluations.

There are other approaches that you can use to increase the independence of your evaluation. These include:

  • Ask a teacher, staff member or a volunteer who has not been involved with the initiative to conduct interviews with students who were involved.
  • Choose ways to gather evidence and information that don’t reveal who individuals are. For example, an online survey that can be anonymous (and make sure it really is anonymous!).
  • Invite a teacher or staff member who has not been involved in the initiative to look over the information you want to collect and develop your conclusions. You can invite them to provide feedback and ask questions, e.g. why you decided on a certain approach, or why you described conclusions or results in a particular way. This might be your ‘peer reviewer’.

When part of the evaluation’s purpose is about satisfying or influencing an external group (such as a partner or funder), it’s worth checking that they’re satisfied the evaluation will be appropriately independent. Some funders and government organisations will have special requirements you need to follow.