What is evaluation? - How to evaluate ideas


An evaluation determines the worth and merit of something. It answers the question whether goals are being met. To answer the question, the criteria (the values) of the evaluation have to be appropriate.


Definition: An evaluation is an appraisal (assessment) of something by comparing it to a standard. This is done by comparing actual values with standard values (goal values).


Example: A teacher evaluates a test by comparing the achieved score with the maximum possible score.


"... ‘program evaluation’ means an assessment, through measurement and systematic analysis, of the manner and extend to which Postal Service programs achieve intended objectives." (Public Law 103-62: Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 U.S. Government Printing Office, § 2801, https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=441403, 12.03.21)


How to evaluate ideas

We have set the goals and requirements for the solution of a problem. They are the target values. The difficulty is that the ideas we want to evaluate are still vague.


"Creative ideas take time to mature. ... Many well-known theories of creativity, ... involve two stages: generation of possibilities, followed by exploration and ultimately selective retention of the most promising of them. However, the generation stage of creative thinking may be divergent ... in the sense that it produces a raw idea that is vague or unfocused, that requires further processing to become viable." (Gabora, L., and Saab, A. (2011). “Creative inference and states of potentiality in analogy problem solving,” in Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Boston, MA, p. 3506)


Example: A friend calls me and tells me that he wants to visit me in an hour. I want to offer him something to eat. Since he is vegetarian, I have the idea to cook a vegetable soup. It is too late for shopping. So I have to think of a recipe (a method) how to make a delicious soup with the ingredients I have available.


A recipe is a set of instructions that describes how to prepare or make something, especially a dish. A process is a series of actions to achieve a result. A method is a way of doing something to achieve a goal. So a recipe, a process and a method are the same.


"Methods are well-planned, well-founded procedures for achieving defined goals ... A method is a systematic instruction for action (a procedure) to solve tasks of a certain class. It is based on one or more principles. The instruction describes how, starting from given conditions, a goal can be achieved with a defined sequence of steps." (http://www.informatikbegriffsnetz.de/arbeitskreise/vorgehensmodelle/themenbereiche/prinzipMethodeWerkzeug.html, 12.02.14, my translation)


to be continued ...