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Evaluation – the educational context
  1. C F Macdougall
  1. Dr C F Macdougall, Medical Teaching Centre, Warwick Medical School and University Hospital, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK; colin.macdougall{at}


Evaluation comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be as simple and as grounded in day to day work as a clinical teacher reflecting on a lost teaching opportunity and wondering how to do it better next time or as complex, top down and politically charged as a major government led evaluation of use of teaching funds with the subtext of re-allocating them. Despite these multiple spectra of scale, perceived ownership, financial and political implications, the underlying principles of evaluation are remarkably consistent. To evaluate well, it needs to be clear who is evaluating what and why. From this will come notions of how it needs to be done to ensure the evaluation is meaningful and useful. This paper seeks to illustrate what evaluation is, why it matters, where to start if you want to do it and how to deal with evaluation that is external and imposed.

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  • Detail has been removed from this case description or these case descriptions to ensure anonymity. The editors and reviewers have seen the detailed information available and are satisfied that the information backs up the case the author is making.