Evaluation 101

This page offers an introduction to the four pillars of evaluation and how you can apply them to your engagement work. Explore the core principles and read through an example that puts these principles into practice.

updated on 11 Jan 2024
2 minutes read

The four pillars of evaluation

The four pillars of evaluation were developed by NPC as a tool to build impact and measurement frameworks. Built on a strong foundation of leadership, clear strategic vision, and a case for measuring impact, the four pillars provide key focal points for planning your approach: map your theory of change, prioritise what you measure, choose your level of evidence, and select your sources and tools.

Introduction to Evaluation

In the following video Co-Director of the NCCPE, Sophie Duncan, details these pillars and how we can apply them in the context of engagement.

Developing a project is an iterative process and evaluation can help you improve and develop your approach. Revisit your plan throughout and ask yourself if you are still meeting the purpose, outcomes and impacts established at the start of the project. It is worth noting that your evaluation plan may need updating as the work unfolds.

The four pillars in practice

What does it look like to apply the pillars? We share a case study of how one project developed their evaluation framework and plan.

Case study: Benefits for Bees. This case study explores developing an evaluation plan for a public engagement project to promote the benefits of pollen producing plants for bees

A research group that studies local bee populations found a significant decline in recent years. They established that the local populations are affected for many reasons, some of which are systemic issues and some of which are within the control of local people. The team decides to focus on interventions they can make in their community that encourage people to contribute to improving bee habitats by planting bee-friendly pollen producing plants. If successful, they plan to repeat the intervention. They access a learned society grant which gives them £500 to create this pilot engagement activity.

Click through each pillar (map your theory of change, prioritise what you measure, choose your level of evidence, and select your sources and tools) to see how they thought through their evaluation framework.

The researchers use this information to create an evaluation plan, which you can read in detail alongside their logic model:

Get inspired

Do you have an example of excellent evaluation practice? Perhaps the project used an innovative technique, managed their resources well, or embedded evaluation in a particularly thoughtful way.