Glossary of evaluation terms
This glossary includes common terms, definitions and abbreviations used in the evaluation framework. Unless stated otherwise, definitions have been sourced from:
Department of Finance 1994, Doing evaluations: A practical guide, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra
DGR Consulting Pty Ltd 2002, Performance indicators for government: Handbook, Sydney
- Accountability line
The level within the results heirarchy to which a program's results could be considered reasonable. The level to which a program could be held accountable.
- Adaptive management
An approach that involves learning from management actions and using that learning to improve the next stage of management (Holling CS 1978, Adaptive environmental management and assessment, Wiley, Chichester).
- Appropriateness evaluation
An evaluation that will assist in deciding the need for, and nature of, a proposed new program. May not only be applied at planning stage but over the life of a longer term program, particularly if the political, economic, environmental or social context changes.
The data layers or components that will inform a performance indicator against its target or basis for comparison
Best management practices or principles
Catchment action plan
Catchment management authority
Instigator or authority for the evaluation
- Compliance audit
An examination of procedures, systems, program documentation and controls that have been implemented, i.e. considers how actual inputs, processes and outputs comply with those that were intended.
Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW
Department of Natural Resources (NSW)
- Effectiveness evaluation
Examines extent to which program objectives or desired outcomes have been achieved. Will also measure factors that affect achievement and relationships between program implementation and measured outcomes. These evaluations are usually conducted when a program is well established.
- Efficiency evaluation
Evaluates the inputs and processes used to produce the outputs of the program. Will be undertaken throughout the life cycle of the program.
A systematic and objective assessment of a program's appropriateness, efficiency or effectiveness (or a combination of these). Evaluation findings are used to manage a program adaptively.
- Evaluation commissioner
Person or organisation requesting the evaluation
Those factors or risks outside the control of a program or organisation, but which may still impact on the delivery of that program
Geographic information system
Resources (e.g. human or other) used to produce program outputs
Monitoring, evaluation and reporting
Multiple lines and levels of evidence
National Framework for Natural Resource Management Standards and Targets
National Land and Water Resources Audit
National Natural Resource Management Monitoring and Evaluation Framework
Natural Resources Commission
Natural resource management
Concise, realistic outcome-styled statements about what a program is aiming to achieve
- Outcome hierarchy
The arrangement of the results (measured or desired) of a program in an ordered sequence from lowest to highest. Usually represents the relationship between the results of inputs, outputs and outcomes.
All the consequences of a program beyond its outputs. Outcomes are usually longer term and may be intended or unintended.
The products or services that are produced by a program. Often more tangible and measurable than outcomes.
- Performance information
Qualitative or quantitative evidence that is collected and used to address the evaluation questions
- Precautionary principle
The precautionary principle is applied as follows: 'where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation'. (UNCED 1992, Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, available at www.un.org/documents/ga/conf151/aconf15126-1annex1.htm)
Descriptive form of performance information. May be collected through surveys or observations.
Numerical form of performance information
- SoE Report
State of the Environment Report
- Unanticipated outcomes
Outcomes not predicted to be caused by a program. They may be positive or negative outcomes in terms of the program. These types of outcomes should be considered during the logical framework approach.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011