Judgment, Evaluation, Feedback, etc. LO9911

Bob Williams (bobwill@actrix.gen.nz)
Thu, 12 Sep 1996 10:25:31 +1200

Replying to LO9868 --

At 9:22 PM 10/9/96, "Kerr, Donald" <Donald.Kerr@alliedsignal.com> wrote:

>I was just thinking about something Peter Senge said in an LO
>Teleconference last year. I won't quote him directly but his message was
>leaders must understand the difference between feedback and evaluation.
>He did not elaborate. He seems to stay away from the issue of performance
>appraisals. I'm curious why and how he feels about this issue. Could any
>of you help me understand the following words and questions?

As someone who comes predominantly from the "evalution" field, I find the
lack of discussion between the learning organisation field and the
evaluation field rather distressing. A number of people are now getting
involved, and are beginning to consturct the bridge. I have also posted
this request onto two evaluation discussion groups.

For the time being I will be very brief.

>1) What is the difference between "evaluation" and "feedback?"

Put simply "evaluation" is a discipline and feedback is a process. The
rough parallel is the difference between "management" and "task". Since
"evaluation" is a body of thought, a wide collection of, sometimes
conflicting, principles, methodologies, methods and techniques, your
question is rather difficult to answer I'm afraid.

>2) How is "evaluation" similar to/different than "Judgment.?"

One commenly used (and to some extent disputed) concept is that
"evaluation is the judgement of the value or worth of something". However
in its disciplinary sense, evaluation is concerned with the rigour
(however defined) of that judgement. Who made the judgement, of what and
on what basis ? There is an enormous debate (huge divides actually) in
the evaluation discipline about whose judgements, and which basis should
be the primary focus of evaluation.

>3) How are these terms related to "ranking," "grading in school," and
>even "Salary Grading and promotion?"

All are evaluation methods, but again their appropriateness, validity and
accuracy would depend on the underpinning evaluation methodology (of
which, like mangement there are many). So in some cases "ranking" would
be considered good "evaluation", in other cases it would be considered
"bad". Like in some management systems corporal punishment is regarded as
valid, appropriate, and effective, and in others it is not.

>4) Are all these terms, including exclusive hierarchy, products of a
>competitive system based on artificial scarcity?

Interesting question. Many evaluators would be shocked by this, and would
argue that evaluation has existed (unnamed) ever since we discoved that
brittle stones makes poor hammers. On the other hand, the expansion of
evaluation as a discipline and (in the USA) as a profession coincided with
concerns about the scale and relative worth of publicly funded welfare
programmes in the 1960's.

As I said before, there is relatively little, but increasingly more, being
written about evaluation and learning organisations. I don't know what
access you have to the literature, so cannot really recommend any further
reading at this stage. Perhaps some of my more informed colleages in the
evaluation field can help.



"Only Connect" - E.M. Forster


bobwill@actrix.gen.nz (Bob Williams)

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>