Evaluating public legal education and information

This invaluable paper includes a wide range of materials on various public legal education and information (PLEI) initiatives with examples of project evaluation reports. The Art and Science of Evaluation by Allison Mackenzie from the Law Society of Alberta, and Evaluation and Publication Standards by the Community Legal Education Association are included.

Read the paper:  Evaluating public legal education and information (293 KB)

There are four themes: challenges to PLEI evaluation, connections between goals of PLEI and its evaluation, challenges of funders evaluation requirements and evaluation methodologies. Research knowledge and gaps are summarised in the paper’s overall findings.

The paper identifies several recurring themes – the lack of skills, resources and money and insufficient definitions of PLEI and evaluation. The findings reveal a bias in evaluation reports for ‘real’ or quantifiable data – a presupposition that does not necessarily reflect the objectives and goals of many PLEI initiatives, which are better suited to various qualitative methods of evaluation.

Several gaps in knowledge were highlighted as well as poor utilization of data collected. The research showed that organisations often fail to share their findings resulting in a duplication of efforts. Internal and external evaluations should always make recommendations for ongoing evaluation/quality control/assessment of programmes and services. The author suggests that in developing an evaluation framework for PLE, the latest evaluation research in the fields of education and human\community services should be obtained and incorporated.

The paper called for further research including the impact of technology, a consolidation of PLEI materials and a comprehensive list of community organisations involved in PLEI delivery.

Published: 30 September 2009

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