About Guelph Evaluation Café

We are a passionate group of professionals working in evaluation and related fields. We meet on a semi-regular basis for learning and networking events.

Anyone who does work related to evaluation or who wants to learn more about evaluation is welcome to attend.

To learn more, contact us at: guelphevaluation@gmail.com

Nov. 20 – Utilization-focused evaluation: a review of the approach, its merits and its hidden challenges

Monday November 20, 2017 • 6:30-8:30pm @ 10C, 42 Carden St. Guelph

This session will provide evaluation practitioners who are new to UFE with its basic principles and steps. For those already familiar with this approach, the unexpected benefits and hidden challenges will be revealed.  The session will draw on several case studies and articles reporting on UF evaluations completed recently both in Canada and internationally.  The presentation will draw from Michael Quinn Patton’s 2008 UFE book, and from a shorter guide prepared under DEC-2: an IDRC-funded project in capacity development in evaluation and communication.

This will be a Power-Point-free event with a handout and plenty of room for discussion. Participants are encouraged to read additional materials from the DECI-2 website.

This session will be led by Ricardo Ramírez, an independent researcher and consultant based in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. His consulting and research work includes communication planning, participatory evaluation and capacity development. His doctoral work focused on how rural and remote communities harness information and communication technology. He is co-author of Communication for another development: Listening before telling (Zed Books, London 2009) and co-author of Utilization-focused evaluation: A Primer for evaluators (Southbound, Penang, 2013).

Ricardo is a credentialed evaluator (Canadian Evaluation Society), holds a BSc. in Crop Science (Guelph), a Masters in Adult Education (St. F.X) and an Inter-disciplinary PhD in Rural Studies (Guelph). He is on the Board of Farmstart.ca, the Guelph Renewable Energy Cooperative (GRECo), and the International Support Group (isginternational.org).

RSVP – please note that seating is limited… if you’re able to attend, please register through: Eventbrite

Location: 10C, 42 Carden Street – Heritage Room, 2nd Floor (elevator access available)

April 20th Evaluation Café: What can the arts offer?

Thursday April 20, 2017 • 7-9pm @10Carden

Evaluators often seek to understand the experiences of others. Using conventional, measurement-based tools when attempting to uncover certain kinds of experiences can leave evaluators with an incomplete story. What other tools exist that can encourage greater engagement within the evaluation process and a more full representation of experience?

An arts-based evaluation approach can be a useful strategy for building relationships, collecting data and investigating change. With applications in the fields of health care, justice, youth and social work, arts-based approaches emphasize the use of creative tasks that are designed to generate conversation and reflection. They facilitate access to different qualities of communication, often because participants enjoy the process and are imaginatively inspired to contribute.

There are numerous arts-practices, models and frameworks to draw from; in this session the focus will be on physical communication and the use of movement and theatre traditions. As a group, we will develop skill and capacity for physical expression, apply those skills in a context relevant to evaluation, and debrief the experience together, examining how, when, why and with whom this kind of approach might be used.

  • Can you think of an evaluation context/project where this approach might have been useful? Why? What barriers may have existed?
  • Can arts-based approaches help us to address the (often under-discussed) emotional aspects of evaluation (e.g. hiding, resistance to failure, fear of criticism)? Is this useful/important?
  • What ethical awareness is important in using arts-based tools? When is collaboration with arts practitioners necessary?
  • How are these approaches useful in a context of professional development for evaluators?

Georgia Simms is currently the Practitioner-in-Residence with the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute at the University of Guelph. She completed her Master’s thesis in environmental governance while also working as professional dancer and expanding her practice as a movement educator. Aspects of her artistic practice, including choreography and improvisation, directly inform and influence her current activities, which include the development of arts-based research methods, creative facilitation training and process design consultation.

RSVP: If you’re able to attend, please register through Eventbrite

Location: 10 Carden, Heritage Room

November 23 Eval Café Session

Theories of Change vs. Program Logic Models: Is there room for both?

Simply stated, Theories of Change and Program Logic Models represent methodologies for planning and evaluation…apologies to the TOC and PLM gurus for the oversimplification, but this serves as a jump-off point!

To expand on this a little, a theory of change provides the big picture of why change occurs at a strategic level while a logic model provides a program (implementation) level perspective of the change process… again, this is a bit of an oversimplification but more will be revealed and discussed at our next Guelph Evaluation Café!

Come hang out with us on November 23 as we unravel the basic components of theories of change and program logic models and the key features that set them apart. We’ll also explore how TOC and PLM complement each other using examples from real world applications.

As always, we want to stimulate discussion and whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or new to the evaluation field and just want to expand your knowledge we invite you to join the conversation.

  • Date: Wednesday November 23
  • Time: 7:30 – 9pm
  • Location: 10 Carden, Community room (downstairs)


October 12 Social Event

We’re kicking off our fall sessions of the Guelph Evaluation Café with a social and networking event.

Come out and catch up with old connections, and meet new colleagues working in evaluation and related fields.

  • Starting time: 6:30pm
  • Location: Breadbar (105 Gordon St, Guelph)

RSVP: If you’re able to attend, please register through Eventbrite.

See You This Fall

The Guelph Evaluation Café will reconvene in fall 2016.

It’s been a great year of Guelph Evaluation Café meetings. In the past 12 months, we came together to learn about:

  • the Toward Common Ground collaboration in Guelph,
  • how to manage imposter syndrome,
  • how to assess progress towards Open Government, and
  • best practices in event evaluation.

Please get in touch (guelphevaluation@gmail.com) if you have any ideas for an upcoming session, or if you would like to get involved in organizing the Café.

Have a great summer and see you this fall!

June 2016 Guelph Evaluation Café Meeting

Evaluating Together: The Toward Common Ground Project

time: 7.00-8.30 pm
date*: Wednesday June 22

(*rescheduled from April)

Toward Common Ground (TCG) is collaborative project with 13 local organizations partnering to strengthen the way they collaborate; plan; gather, use and share local data and information; understand and talk about our community’s needs; seize opportunities to take strategic collective action and understand collective impact.

At our next session, facilitated by TCG project manager Sarah Haanstra, you will have an opportunity to learn more about TCG and to share your thoughts and ideas on the project.



February 2016 Guelph Evaluation Café Meeting

Own your success and dump that imposter!

time: 7.00-8.30 pm
date: Thursday February 25th
location (updated): HumanSystems® Incorporated, Granary Building, 111 Farquhar Street

  • You’re experienced and competent in your skills, right?
  • You’ve worked hard to get where you are in your career, correct?
  • You’re a professional and you take your work seriously, yes?

So why might you sometimes doubt your abilities? What makes you feel that you’re some kind of fraud, that your performance is a sham and that others are more deserving of success?

Join us on Feb 25 for a lively discussion on the topic of Imposter Syndrome. Impostor syndrome refers to a collection of feelings of inadequacy that most people – even very accomplished and skilled people – have experienced at one point or another, even though their actual accomplishments clearly tell a story of success.

We’ll explore what imposter syndrome is, how it can contribute to undermining your abilities as an evaluator, and ways to recognize and deal with this phenomenon. We’ll also look at how this phenomenon relates to the Canadian Evaluation Society competencies for practice and we’ll have a few professionals speak about their personal experience and how they faced down the imposter!

Event slides:


November 2015 Guelph Evaluation Café Meeting

Assessing Progress Towards Open Government in Guelph

time: 7.00-8.30 pm
date: Thursday 19th November.
location: HumanSystems® Incorporated, Granary Building, 111 Farquhar Street.
parking: Pick any HSI® signed spot at the front of the building.

Come and discuss evaluation approaches for Open Government in Guelph.


Continue reading

September 24 Evaluation Café: Learning Session

Welcome back to the Guelph Evaluation Café! This fall, we’re planning for learning sessions in September/ November.

Event Evaluation

What impact did your event have? What happened during & after the conference? How do you evaluate workshops?

Join us on September 24 for a learning session on event evaluation. The format will be a facilitated discussion, so we can share expertise within the group.

All are welcome! This learning session is aimed at beginner to intermediate evaluation audiences. If you’re an evaluation practitioner, please come and share your expertise, brush up on some skills, and socialize with fellow practitioners.



  • evaluation before, during, & after the event
  • pros & cons of different approaches
  • examples from the field


Elizabeth Shantz, Knowledge Mobilization Manager, Canadian Water Network

Sara Fisher, KTT and Communications Officer, University of Guelph


Get in touch: guelphevaluation@gmail.com