CES Webinar: Words of Evaluation

Title: Words of Evaluation: A terminological dictionary to clarify communication in evaluation practice
Speakers: Richard Marceau, Francine Sylvain, Ghislan Arbour, Frank Hogg
Offered by: Canadian Evaluation Society

  • project at the École nationale d’administration publique (ENAP) in Quebec City to create a terminology dictionary for people working in evaluation in French (2014)
  • then they realized that they could extend this work to English (currently working on it)
  • not just a matter of translating the French dictionary into English, but rather:
    • extracting the conceptual system
    • apply the methodology for terminology dictionary
  • what are the needs of evaluators when it comes to communication?
    • evaluators sometimes run into communication issues because they use different words to refer to the same thing (or the same word to refer to different things)
    • communication between evaluators and clients – even moreso!
    • as evaluators, our product is information, which is made of words, so we need to have clear communication!
  • challenges in evaluation language:
    • inaccuracy
    • incoherence – e.g., if you are writing a paper about needs assessment, you may just define terms relevant to that, but when others do the same for other types of/aspects of evaluation, but when you try to put it all together, you don’t have a coherent system
    • jargon – not known by not experts
  • What do we currently have?
    • evaluation textbooks contain specialized knowledge (but don’t solve our jargon issue and may not solve the incoherence problem)
    • general dictionaries use general language, but don’t contain the specialized knowledge, so may not work for our purposes
  • a terminological dictionary is meant to be a blend of the two – contain specialized knowledge but attempts to provide a coherent system
    • vertical coherence
    • horizontal coherence – e.g., if you have a definition of “program” and a definition of “evaluation”, then your definition of “program evaluation” should make sense in terms of the first two definitions
  • their terminological dictionary is focused on performance of programs (not on evaluation methodology or sociology of evaluation) – not designed to do research on evaluation, but rather to support evaluation practice
  • stay tuned for the release of the English version

Very similar slide deck to the one presented is available here.

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