An evaluation report is a detailed account of all of the factors involved in a project or activity.
Its main purpose is to communicate specific results to the interested group of people (Were the objectives accomplished? Were the proposed activities implemented? How much did it cost? What method or procedures were used? What were its strong or weak points? etc. ). It is also important to be as objective as possible when implementing and writing the report.
Evaluation reports are written most of the time, although in some cases and for certain recipients, they can be oral. Overall, professionals that implement the evaluation and write the report should make an effort for it to be clear for the recipients. For this reason, it is important to identify and understand who the report is going to.
In all projects or activities there are many people who are “involved” to greater or lesser extent. These people can make use of the reports if they are offered appropriate and accessible information. All reports should answer the relevant questions put forth by the asking public. For example, the evaluation report of a school mediation service would be different for teachers and for parents.
It is common to have various reports, differentiating between an extensive report for strictly external use and other reports that include only some of the important factors, depending on who it is aimed at. However, there are some theories that advocate for having only one report. This option, in addition to being simpler, seems to hold more weight and is more influential because there is a general agreement about the information, as only one message is bring presented. In any case, it is still important to have one report for private internal use for the people responsible for the project or activity and a public report for a larger and more extensive group of people.
For all reports, the following are some general guidelines to follow:
- Use clear and exact language without unnecessary embellishments and without being vague.
- Avoid using vulgar words and make sure to use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling to keep it professional and to not tarnish its image or content.
- Make sure to adjust the terminology and language used to the recipients. The objective is for them to understand the report perfectly. As a general rule, abbreviations should not be used.
- It is important to clearly state what information was used to make the inferences. Avoid including personal opinions and statements like “I think”, “I believe”, “ I would like…”. Those should be replaced with more general ideas like “The data and analysis show…”, “It can be seen that…”, and other passive phrases.
- For information that you are not completely sure about, use statements like “it is possible”, “probably” and “it seems that”.
Now that we have established some general guidelines, these are some suggested sections to add into the report:
- Introduction: This is where the intention or aim of the document should be. This refers to what the report is about and what its purpose is. It should also include the professional statement which is essentially done by the institution or the group that implemented the evaluation and wrote the report.
- Summary: This is a brief summary of all of the content in the report and the different sections and subsections should be specified according to how the report is organised.
- Description of the programme, activity, or situation: This explains the objective of the evaluation and includes all of the relevant information. For example, a programme might include a brief outline of events, objectives, characteristics, activities, resources, the entity that planned it, economic support, etc.
- Description of the evaluative study: This involves a description of the development of the evaluation process which refers to the content, phases, measures used, method and procedures for collecting information and analysis.
- Presentation of the main results: Make sure that the presentation is clear and coherent by using tables, graphs, concept maps, or any other pertinent information that makes the results easier to interpret.
- Discussion of the results or evaluation: In the evaluation report the results are not just described but rather they should appear compared to the references that were used in the evaluation (needs, program goals, etc.) and write the appropriate evaluation of that comparison.
- Conclusions and recommendations: This involves the decisions to be made after the evaluation. This refers to the assessment made in the previous section that should lead to making decisions that will improve future actions.
We hope that this post on evaluation reports has been useful for you! Would you add any additional sections to what suggest here? Make sure to let us know and leave comment below!