The ROER4D project activity toolkit is comprised of five documents outlining activities associated with each of the University of Cape Town Network Hub pillars of project management activity: networking, evaluation, communications, research capacity development, and curation and dissemination. It is hoped that these chapters will be of practical use to other projects attempting to integrate any of these aspects in their day-to-day activities.
The “Evaluation” chapter is part two in a series of five project activity toolkit briefs. Written by Sarah Goodier, it details how ROER4D employed a unique evaluation process – Utilization-Focused Evaluation (UFE) – to allow the project’s Network Hub to obtain regular feedback on its activities from researchers, so as to enhance the Hub’s ability to respond to researchers’ needs in an agile manner. This evaluation process occurred during multiple phases of the project, allowing the data and insights it yielded to shape the Hub’s successive actions. Using a UFE framework as a scaffold, this brief outlines and reflects on evaluation activity undertaken in the project against the 12-step UFE process, why this was done and what was learned from the process. It also offers recommendations for other large-scale, Global South networked projects that may wish to implement an internal, use-focused evaluation process.
The key insights revealed focus on how ROER4D found UFE to be valuable for monitoring project activities with an eye to improving the Network Hub’s work and responsiveness to the broader group of project researchers. Devoting resourcing for the specific task of monitoring and evaluating processes against mutually agreed-upon goals meant that the project had the benefit of someone who was embedded in the internal project operations and aware of the constantly-evolving environment in which it worked, while still retaining a critical eye on everyday activities.