5.3 Mechanisms for Professionalization


This section considers the concrete mechanisms that aim to build capacity and continually enhance or maintain the capacity of individuals, institutions, and ecosystems. While many of the documents referenced in this section focussed on individual evaluators, other ones showed perspectives specific to a particular sector (e.g., international development). Also, some documents describing roles, responsibilities and competencies of evaluation producers or managers included idiosyncrasies associated with their context.

Six pillars have been identified that support the tooling for the professionalization of evaluation.

Institutional structures refer to the existence within countries, regions and organizations of an enabling environment which supports the importance of evaluation.  While many countries and international organizations have policies and regulations requiring regular evaluation of their programmes, Nepal, Morocco and a small number of other countries have gone a step further to include requirements for monitoring and evaluation in their constitution.

Access to education and training includes academic education, ongoing professional development through academic institutions, professional development through VOPEs, professional development provided by private organizations and on-the-job mentoring and training through formal and informal arrangements.

Dissemination of knowledge and good practices takes place through open and membership only peer-reviewed journals and websites such as AEA365, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation,  and Better Evaluation (which provides good practices across a huge variety of topics through articles and blogs) and EvalPartners through its e-learning initiative.  Many VOPEs and international organizations make space on their websites for videos, grey literature, articles and blogs.

Guiding principles, ethics and standards can be found on the websites of most VOPEs.  This section includes information from the American Evaluation Association (AEA), the Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Association (ANZEA), the Canadian Evaluation Society (CES), the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS), Red de Seguimiento, Evaluación y Sistematización de Latinoamérica y el Caribe (RELAC), the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Evaluator capability and competency frameworks have been developed by some VOPEs including CES, IDEAS, the Japanese Evaluation Society (JES), and the European Evaluation Society (EES), many of them building on academic publications. The naming of categories of competencies are varied yet there are “surprising commonalities” in the kinds of competencies identified (i.e., reflective, professional/ methodological/ technical, contextual/situational, management and interpersonal communication).  For example, CES’ categories include reflective practice, technical practice, situational practice, management practice and interpersonal practice; the EES covers similar ground under the categories of evaluation knowledge, professional practice and dispositions and attitudes. Competencies are updated as the evaluation profession evolves, for example, CES updated its Competencies for Canadian Evaluation Practice in October 2018 – 10 years after the initial publication. Of course, there are many kinds of evaluators, with various specialties, and competency profiles must be carefully crafted to recognize this complexity, to include all schools of evaluation, and to avoid the implicit or explicit assumption that professionalization attempts to narrow the field to one particular set of skills.

Recognition of knowledge, skills and experience requires some formal mechanism which can take the form of a credentialing or certification system.

  • Currently, the CES is the only VOPE to have an established credentialing system in place which is based on a peer-review system of the individual candidate’s competencies, education and evaluation practice. 
  • The JES has a three-level certification system, with the first two levels based on course-completion followed by an exam or a completed field application; and the third level of certification is portfolio-based peer-reviewed certification assessment that focuses on the individual’s ability to conduct systematic research on evaluation. (See the article by Kuji-Shikatani and Imata below.)
  • EES and UKES jointly have established an evaluator peer review process (i.e., Voluntary Evaluator Peer Review - VEPR) focusing primarily on professional development through peer review.

VOPEs’ discussions shared in the IOCE toolkits indicate that while the first three pillars identified above facilitate the nurturing of an evaluation culture to take root, the latter three pillars are identified by VOPEs as a continuum of progression that leads to an eventual exploration and an implementation of the concrete mechanism for professionalization that best suit their VOPE’s contextual reality.

So, questions to you, VOPE leaders: what is the current states of professionalization resources in your country? Which mechanisms could realistically be implemented in your country, given the state of development of the ecosystem, and in which sequence? What resources could your VOPE devote to promoting these mechanisms once in place? With which partners could you team up to create mechanisms of professionalization in your country?

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