C1 - How embedded evaluation can secure the future of resource intensive researcher development programmes by enhancing: participant learning; course development and impact reporting

Day 2 at 11:00 - With a change of funding (post-Roberts era) and potentially tighter researcher development budgets, institutions may be faced with having to prioritise. Consequently, resource intensive programmes and courses such as GRADschool, Leadership in Action or other bespoke programmes are often the target of cost cutting. Our ability to develop robust and reliable evaluation frameworks and processes is critical to demonstrate the value of researcher development and, more specifically, the place each programme takes in the wider development agenda. The objective of resource intensive programmes is often linked to a clear focus on experiential learning which require a large investment for the HEIs involved, in terms of up-front costs (e.g. residential courses), staff time and student time away from research. The workshop will specifically focus on Cambridge GRADschool (three-day residential course aimed at research students) and the evaluation approach developed and implemented over the last 2 years.

This 80 minute interactive workshop will help participants reflect on the importance of embedded evaluation to deliver fit for purpose programmes and as a mean to measure the benefits and impact of programmes focusing on experiential learning. It will examine the benefits and challenges of embedding evaluation in programme design and implementation, discuss data analysis and generate discussion about how this evaluation approach could be taken forward to evaluate researcher training and development provision for resource intensive programmes. This workshop will look at an evaluation approach used over the past two years for the University of Cambridge Local GRADschool, and make reference to the approaches of the national Impact Framework and the Impact and Evaluation Group.

Presentation from Workshop C1


Day Day 2
Session C
Start time 11.00
Strand Postgraduate Research
Code C1

Dr Geraint Wyn Story - Researcher Development Consultant, University of Cambridge

Natacha Wilson - Independent Development and Innovation Consultant, University of Cambridge

Workshop topics covered:

The workshop will comprise two parts:

1. A short, interactive presentation of a case study of embedded evaluation for Cambridge GRADschool . This will include:

- An overview of the evaluation approach used that integrates evaluation at three stages of the programme (pre-course, post- course, 3 months on). 

- An exploration of the key benefits and challenges of embedding evaluation in programme design and delivery

- Overview of collation methods and data analysis, and how these can feed into future programme development (developers), enhance learning (researchers) and help measure ROI (outcomes, behaviour changes)

- Whole group discussion to elicit and share views and experiences of participants

who have initiated/conducted evaluative studies at their institutions, or are thinking of doing so


2. An interactive session of small group discussions and whole group feedback will encourage an exchange among practitioners about how to realistically concretely tackle the challenge of strengthening evaluation capacities:

strengthening evaluation capacities:

- Small group sessions where participants can identify possibilities for conducting evaluation at their institutions

- Whole group feedback session, sharing strategies and good practices identified and discussed within the small group sessions

Themes covered:

  • New approaches to enabling researchers to reach their potential and make powerful career choices
  • Leadership development for researchers
  • Researcher development and researcher careers evaluation and impact studies to further our understanding and knowledge of the researcher landscape

Workshop outcomes:

Participants will:

  • Gain specific insight from reviewing the approach in evaluating resource intensive programmes
  • Explore the wider role of evaluation in shaping future researcher development activities
  • Identify ways of adapting their evaluation approach to meet stakeholder needs
  • Become part of a network / forum for sharing experiences and good practice
  • Participants might wish to bring any examples of service evaluation conducted at their institutions for comparison
  • Understand how evaluation of resource intensive programmes aligns with the Impact Framework and the Impact and Evaluation Group approach.


80 minutes workshop (short presentation followed by interactive session)