Evaluation is a systematic determination of a subject’s merit, worth and significance, using criteria governed by a set of standards. It can assist an organization, program, design, project or any other intervention or initiative to assess any aim, realisable concept/proposal, or any alternative, to help in decision-making; or to ascertain the degree of achievement or value in regard to the aim and objectives and results of any such action that has been completed. The primary purpose of evaluation, in addition to gaining insight into prior or existing initiatives, is to enable reflection and assist in the identification of future change.
 Evaluation is often used to characterize and appraise subjects of interest in a wide range of human enterprises, including the arts, criminal justice, foundations, non-profit organizations, government, health care, and other human services. It is long term and done at the end of a period of time.Evaluation is the structured interpretation and giving of meaning to predicted or actual impacts of proposals or results. It looks at original objectives, and at what is either predicted or what was accomplished and how it was accomplished. So evaluation can be formative, that is taking place during the development of a concept or proposal, project or organization, with the intention of improving the value or effectiveness of the proposal, project, or organisation. It can also be summative, drawing lessons from a completed action or project or an organisation at a later point in time or circumstance.
Evaluation is inherently a theoretically informed approach (whether explicitly or not), and consequently any particular definition of evaluation would have been tailored to its context – the theory, needs, purpose, and methodology of the evaluation process itself. Having said this, evaluation has been defined as:
- A systematic, rigorous, and meticulous application of scientific methods to assess the design, implementation, improvement, or outcomes of a program. It is a resource-intensive process, frequently requiring resources, such as, evaluate expertise, labor, time, and a sizable budget
- “The critical assessment, in as objective a manner as possible, of the degree to which a service or its component parts fulfills stated goals” (St Leger and Wordsworth-Bell).[failed verification] The focus of this definition is on attaining objective knowledge, and scientifically or quantitatively measuring predetermined and external concepts.
- “A study designed to assist some audience to assess an object’s merit and worth” (Stufflebeam).[failed verification] In this definition the focus is on facts as well as value laden judgments of the programs outcomes and worth.