German Institute for Development Evaluation
Magazin-Schmuckbild für Fachthemen

Learning from evaluations

Learning in order to act

Evaluations can unlock a great deal of potential in many areas if lessons are learnt from their findings. This is why DEval sees one of its key tasks as fostering learning from evaluations at various levels – from learning by the stakeholders who are directly involved or affected through to learning by policymakers in general. We plan evaluations to be as learning-oriented as possible at every stage, from their conception through to the implementation of findings.

Participation by stakeholders in the evaluation process is key to learning practical lessons. By fostering ownership, we encourage a positive attitude towards an evaluation and thus raise the likelihood that the findings and recommendations will be implemented in practice - that lessons will be learnt.

It is essential that findings are transparent and can be understood. Reports must be clearly worded and formulated respectfully. They should also show how concrete actions and decisions can be derived. These criteria must be met if evaluation findings are to be produce highly relevant lessons. But our work does not end with the production of a report. Sustainable learning from evaluations is also a question of systematic follow-up, with agreement on steps to be taken and monitoring of their implementation.

To learn lessons from evaluation that go beyond a specific project, we apply comparable evaluation criteria, such as the criteria of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (DAC criteria), and communicate the conclusions as widely as possible. We promote learning from evaluations with a view to encouraging institutional learning and thus a "learning culture" in institutions.