That’s an interesting question Joanne. I think the terms can be used interchangeably in some instances or when speaking in generalities. I also think in terms of fitness, assessment is the first step or the diagnostic portion, if you will. We’re assessing or determining a client’s fitness level based on scientific methods and criteria. We use assessment results to set realistic goals so we can make an evaluation of progress made at points in the future, or to give an overall analysis of progress from our initial point.
What is your opinion?
Let’s first look at the “technical” difference. I think the distinction is more obvious in the field of teaching or instructional design wherein an assessment helps gauge understanding and present opportunities to improve curriculum. An example of an assessment in this instance would be a pop quiz that doesn’t count towards a grade or survey to see what the class thinks about a project underway. An evaluation, on the other hand, would be a measure or judgement of “value,” more or less the “result” of the training or curriculum (such as a final exam).
In my own work, I tend to use these words interchangeably, but that’s probably because I don’t necessarily encourage the kind of things that would require differentiation. I could go into more detail but that’s probably content for a completely different question.
I learned an interesting concept about “definitions” a number of years ago from one of my undergraduate professors. Basically, “definitions gain power from those who give it to them.” I’m curious to hear what others think about this idea and if they support or oppose it.