What does this mean?
Conclusions provide clear answers to the evaluation questions. They incorporate value judgements. Lessons are transferable conclusions to subsequent cycles of the same intervention or of other interventions.
What is the purpose?
- To ensure that the report provides true answers to the questions asked.
- To clearly identify the points at which the evaluation involves value judgements, and to ensure that those judgements are not implicit or badly justified, as this would be a weakness.
How should they be formulated?
Conclusions and lessons stem from the preceding steps as follows:
Conclusions answer the questions
The questions asked at the beginning of the evaluation find their answers by means of the conclusions. A conclusion may answer several questions and several conclusions may answer a single question.
Provided that all the questions asked have been answered, the evaluation team can present additional conclusions to take into account unexpected and important information and results.
The conclusions follow from data and findings
Upon writing a conclusion, what is being judged is one aspect of the intervention, for example: a strategic guideline (Is it relevant?), a practice (Is it efficient?), an expected effect (Was it obtained?), or an unexpected one (Is it positive?).
Thus, conclusions stem from collected data and evidence, from analysis and interpretations performed, from findings and new knowledge generated.
Conclusions are based on judgement criteria
To formulate its conclusions, the evaluation team applies the judgement criteria (also called "reasoned assessment criteria") that were agreed upon in the first phase (desk) of the evaluation. Data collection and analysis are structured according to these criteria. As long as this is possible, the findings are compared against targets
- Example: The support has contributed towards increasing the number of qualified and experienced teachers by 30% in the areas where ethnic minority X concentrates (finding), which has allowed that area to catch up with the country average (target).
At the stage of the draft final report, the evaluation team may have to refine its judgement criteria and targets. In such a case, the issue is discussed with the reference group.
A lesson is a transferable conclusion
A lesson is a conclusion that can be transferred to subsequent cycles of the same intervention or to other interventions.
- Example: By connecting its disbursements to specifically designed performance indicators, the EC can successfully contribute towards improving the capacity to enrol pupils from disadvantaged groups.