The Koala Evaluation Tool – a new way of evaluating facilitated workshops

Working with the Scottish Government's Creativity Team and drawing on the research of Imagination PhD student Dee Hennessey we are tackling the challenges of workshop evaluation. Try the free resources included in this post.

As engagement with citizens, participation and collaboration become more and more important, especially in the public sector, the evaluation of workshop activities is becoming critically important. We were lucky to collaborate with the brilliant Creativity Team in the Scottish Government in an ongoing process to address the challenge of good, effective (even fun) evaluation. We started this by drawing on research undertaken by Dee Hennessey, a PhD student at Imagination and a skilled facilitator in her own right. The result was the ‘Koala Cutch’ evaluation tool. In the text below we describe the rationale behind the tool, give instructions for use and provide the tool free to download.

 The rational for Koala (KnOwledge And Learning evAluation) is that a focus on participants’ expectations and personal experience of events will help them respond more actively to an evaluation. We also felt that understanding the participants’ mindset before the beginning of the event was important in establishing the effectiveness of a facilitated event. The result is a 2-part tool, where a baseline wraps around the final evaluation. Finally, there is good research that using playful metaphors makes tools more memorable, enjoyable and gives better results. All this gave birth to the Koala Evaluation Tool.

We were lucky we had an excellent venue for the first baby steps of the tool.  In an event organized and co-facilitated by the Creativity Team we trialed the Koala Evaluation Tool with a group of expert facilitators and engagement professionals in the Scottish Public Sector. You can see a detailed description of this event including a full report documenting the outcomes of the workshop here).

The tool changed quite a bit as a result of this collaborative process is the version of the tool available to download here. This is still very much a draft and we will be developing new versions in the future as we continue to work with the Creativity Team.  We want people to use this and feedback to help this collaborative process. We also want people to use the tool in unexpected ways and surprise us with this appropriation.

We use the Koala evaluation tool in this way. 

1)    Print out part A double sided on A4 paper and cut in half giving you 2 pro-formers with a task on each side.

2)    As participants arrive get them to fill in both sides, one side is Koala the other is a simple ice breaker (feel free to insert your own activity)

3)    As part of the icebreaking activity people put Part A on a wall in a group, Koala is out of sight and mind.

4)    At the end of the event people retrieve their part A forms and fold them in half

5)    These folded in half forms are stuck to part B (an A4 sheet), we like to use double sided tape applied before the event for this but sticky tape or a stapler work just as well.

6)    Ask participants to follow the simple instructions on part B and return to the facilitator.

 A note on sharing and modification: In the part A PDF you can download here one of the questions (the yellow one) can be edited in Acrobat PDF reader (free to download here). You can change this text to suit your own context. We are in the process of understanding generally how much modification people want in the tool, if you want more flexibility on the wording do let us know. Secondly sharing, we are happy for people to take up and adapt this tool as long as the terms of the Creative Commons License are adhered to. You can find details of this here but in essence any modification needs to preserve the contribution of Lancaster University and Dee Hennessey. 

Finally please do show us how you are evolving the Koala, we want to know how it's growing up and where it's living!



Koala Evaluation Part A

The first part of the Koala Evaluation Tool


Koala Evaluation Part B

The second part of the Koala Evaluation Tool