Lancaster Evaluation Group Event Series - Session 1- Evolving approaches to and expectations of evaluation in education

Monday 3 June 2024, 10:30am to 2:30pm


HIO - Health Innovation One A14 - View Map

Open to

External Organisations, Postgraduates, Staff


Free to attend - registration required

Registration Info

This session is part of a series, to see the listings of other events and sign up to those you are interested in please follow this link:

There is the option of attending the speakers sessions remotely, though this will not include the free lunch or participation in the Evaluation Café.

Note: the booking form will include sessions that may already of happened. So please ensure you check the date and time referenced.

Event Details

The Lancaster Evaluation Group (LEG) is hosting a series of seminars and networking sessions which will explore a range of perspectives and insights on evaluative practice in HE and beyond. This is the first in the series.

In this session we will hear from two speakers who are both exploring how evaluation practice and methods have evolved in recent times, and the tensions this can create both in-practice and theory. Many of us will have experienced the difficultly of balancing the expectations of funders, regulators and managers with the limitations that are imposed on us by the availability of data, the size of our samples and the barriers to implementing a "perfectly" designed evaluation. Both of these papers consider these wider challenges and how they might be navigated.

Following the speakers session there will be free lunch provided and an opportunity to network and connect in our Evaluation Café.

Session agenda:

10:30am-11:00am: Coffee and registration

11:00am-12:00pm: Seminar with the two seminar speakers presenting each for 20min followed by 20min discussion

12:00pm-12:30pm: Lunch

12:30pm-2:30pm: Evaluation Café (networking session)

Speaker 1: Jonathan Schulte, Evaluations Manager, London School of Economics,

Paper title: The troubles of ‘good’ evaluation: Identifying practical tensions between participatory approaches, certainty, and usefulness.

Summary: In the philosophy of science, a distinction is commonly made between epistemic and non-epistemic aims. Applied to evaluative practice, this presentation argues that evaluation has both epistemic and non-epistemic goals: that beyond mere empirical adequacy (epistemic aim) evaluations also aim to produce morally adequate and useful findings (non-epistemic aims). However, in practice, tensions between these aims emerge. Specifically, on the level of method, there are trade-offs between practices considered to further the robustness of findings and those that may seek to reflect on the aims of projects or make findings more actionable. Discussing two examples of this tension, the presentation concludes by suggesting that firstly, purely epistemic schemes for the appraisal of evaluative practice are inadequate, and secondly, that reflective tools such as Murray Saunders’ RUFDATA framework are important to surface these tensions and identify approaches adequate to project specific purposes.

Speaker 2: Binda Patel, Sutton Trust,

Paper title: An Evolving Approach to Evaluating Educational Programmes.

Summary: The Sutton Trust has dedicated 25+ years to delivering high-impact programmes to over 50,000 young people. Our approach to evaluation has had to evolve in this time – from the needs of our young people changing, to increased focus on demonstrating impact, to our curiosity to understand ‘what works’. My presentation will cover how our approach has changed over the years, the tough questions we have had to ask ourselves, and how we test and evaluate innovative projects where the outcomes aren’t always clear from the outset.


Binda Patel

Sutton Trust

Binda has dedicated over 15 years to diversity, equity and inclusion in education and employment. She is the Director of Innovation at the leading social mobility charity, Sutton Trust, and has worked on several programmes and activities that have supported thousands of young people across the UK to access higher education, apprenticeships, and employment.

Jonathan Schulte

London School of Economics

Jonathan is the LSE Evaluations Manager, part of the Eden Centre for Education Enhancement (LSE’s teaching and learning centre). He leads the development and implementation of LSE’s Education Evaluation Strategy and is chairing LSE’s APP Evaluation and Monitoring Group, alongside supporting a range of evaluation projects across the Institution.


Contact Details

Name Matthew Pawelski

Directions to HIO - Health Innovation One A14

The Innovation Lab off the foyer in Health Innovation One