Evaluation: Thinking Beyond Measurement

Evaluation is more than measurement. Good evaluation provides clear answers to important questions, so that action can be taken. Evaluation answers questions about how good something is, and whether it is good enough (Davidson, 2013). Explicit evaluative reasoning gives us the means to provide valid, transparent answers to those questions. The following diagram illustrates one form of evaluative reasoning in practice. (Click on the diagram to expand)

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Value for investment e-book

At the core of both economics (the study of how people choose to use resources) and evaluation (the systematic determination of quality or value) is a shared interest in valuing resource use for social betterment. Yet economics and evaluation tend to operate as complementary or competing disciplines rather than being integrated within an overarching logic. Is there a better way? Yes! This e-book proposes an evaluation-specific approach to evaluating value for money in social programs, using explicit evaluative reasoning together with economic methods of evaluation.

This e-book is based on my article in the American Journal of Evaluation: King, J., (2017). Using Economic Methods Evaluatively.

Click to download.

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Bradford Hill Criteria for Causal Inference

One of the great challenges in evaluation is determining whether the results we’re seeing are because of the program we’re evaluating, some other influences out there in the big world, or random chance. I think the Bradford Hill Criteria offer a good checklist to use in evaluation when we have to consider the balance of real-world, messy evidence to make well reasoned judgments about causation.

Click to download.

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What fuel were you made to run on?

A few years ago I became curious about the world of nutrition science, after 40-something years of ignoring it completely. Why are we humans becoming worse and worse at maintaining our weight and metabolic health? Why are our bodies’ homeostatic (self-regulating) mechanisms failing us? The published evidence is complex. But if we stand back a bit, some pretty clear patterns emerge. Our industrial diet of processed food is a major contributor to our pandemic of obesity, type 2 diabetes and related illnesses. Sugar, refined carbohydrates and seed oils are ubiquitous in our food supply and we’re overdosing without knowing it. They are reducing our quality of life, driving up our health care costs, and killing us.

Recommended reading? Start with Dr. Jason Fung’s book The Obesity Code, reviewed here, and Schofield, G., Zinn, C., Rodger, C. (2015). What the Fat? http://whatthefatbook.com/buy/

If, like me, you want to keep learning, here are some other good resources:

Lustig, R. Sugar: The Bitter Truthhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

Minger, D. (2014). Death By Food Pyramid. http://www.amazon.com/Death-Food-Pyramid-Politics-Interests/dp/0984755128

Teicholz, N. (2014). The Big Fat Surprise. http://thebigfatsurprise.com/about-the-big-fat-surprise/

Gillespie, D. (2015) Eat Real Food. http://www.amazon.com/Eat-Real-Food-David-Gillespie-ebook/dp/B00QGEA1AS

Prof Grant Schofield: http://profgrant.com/author/gschofie/

See also: http://profgrant.com/2014/04/23/the-real-food-guidelines/

George Henderson’s blog: http://hopefulgeranium.blogspot.co.nz/

Mikki Williden’s blog: http://mikkiwilliden.com/

The Noakes Foundation: http://www.thenoakesfoundation.org/

Sugar Science – an authoritative sources for evidence-based, scientific information about sugar and its impact on health. http://sugarscience.org/

Authority Nutrition: http://authoritynutrition.com/

Gary Fettke No Fructose: http://www.nofructose.com/

Eating Academy: http://eatingacademy.com/

Gary Taubes: http://garytaubes.com/

Nutrition Science Initiative: http://nusi.org/

Credit Suisse (2013). Sugar Consumption at a Crossroads. https://publications.credit-suisse.com/tasks/render/file/index.cfm?fileid=780BF4A8-B3D1-13A0-D2514E21EFFB0479

…and finally, just a reminder that nothing is ever proven in this game; knowledge keeps evolving, and as good scientists we need to remain open to revising our understanding of what goes on when we eat stuff:

Ioannadis, J.P.A. (2005). Why most published research findings are false. PLoS Med 2(8):e124. http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0020124

 

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