The topic of evaluation has gained more and more importance over the past years – not only in the field of international development cooperation and humanitarian assistance. Against the backdrop of dwindling financial resources, different business sectors increasingly request scientifically based procedures to review effectiveness and efficiency of their programmes and spent resources.
Evaluation, as a special form of applied social science, is more and more applied as an analysis and decision making tool. In some sectors, evaluation plays already an integral part for a number of decision making and planning processes, such as in Education, Social Services, Business Development, Technology and Innovation. At the same time, while concepts of quality management are spreading, new fields of application for evaluation are emerging within the private service sector.
Besides the increased quantitative demand for evaluations, enhanced quality and performance requirements are characteristic for the current development of evaluation science. The observed demand for qualified staff to conduct such evaluations is met by a deficit in adequate education opportunities in the respective field.
The University of Saarland together with the Academy for Technology and Economy has been offering the inter-disciplinary „Master of Evaluation“ for around 10 years now. The post graduate course is the only one of its kind in Germany and – with a few exceptions – in Europe, and is conducted as a part time study in a minimum of 4 semesters.
The Master deals with the scientific discussion of evaluation, covering theory and practice, while preparing students for the practical implementation of evaluations. On a similar note, the course imparts key skills on quality management and organizational development. This includes different methods of qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, as well as key qualifications in the areas of moderation and mediation, project management and reporting.
In its final semesters, these basics are consolidated in a chosen field of practice: International development cooperation; Social Services; Education; Health; or Economic Policies.
For obvious reasons, I have chosen the focus on Development Cooperation. Through the Master, I managed to lift my consultancy work to a new professional level. Particularly in the field of development cooperation, most evaluations are conducted by staff, who has never been trained on evaluation theory, its designs or its methods, and who do their work based on common sense – I was one of them. At the same time, evaluations are often conducted without real conviction, simply because it is required by the donor or the management. By signing up for the Master, I wanted to change this status quo and contribute to an enhanced quality management and usefulness of the evaluation’s findings. By having broadened and intensified my skills on different evaluation types, objectives, designs and methods, I have raised my confidence in proposing and discussing possibilities for quality management with (I)NGOs, local partner organizations and donors.
Read more on the University’s website (in German).