This is an Eval Central archive copy, find the original at freshspectrum.com.
This is a series of posts providing quick overviews of important topics in research and evaluation. Each post in this series will include at least 3 cartoons from my archives and at least 3 links to recommended resources. I only give quotes here and recommend that you follow the links below each quote for more detailed information.
When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative; when the guests taste the soup, that’s summative.
Formative evaluation is generally any evaluation that takes place before or during a project’s implementation with the aim of improving the project’s design and performance.
Formative evaluation complements summative evaluation and is essential for trying to understand why a program works or doesn’t, and what other factors (internal and external) are at work during a project’s life.
Formative evaluation does require time and money and this may be a barrier to undertaking it, but it should be viewed as a valuable investment that improves the likelihood of achieving a successful outcome through better program design.
Formative evaluation ensures that a program or program activity is feasible, appropriate, and acceptable before it is fully implemented. It is usually conducted when a new program or activity is being developed or when an existing one is being adapted or modified.