June 2023 Invited Speaker Rounds

Can we Spark an Evaluation Revival? The Case for Downscaling Routines and Upscaling Principles

Betty Onyura, PhD, CE

Director, Knowledge Mobilization
CAMH, Provincial System Support Program
Cross-appointed scientist, Wilson Centre, University of Toronto

Date: Tuesday, June 20, 2022

Time: 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Hybrid: Life Sciences Centre 1312 CMR & Zoom*

Zoom Details: For connection details, please email ches.communications@ubc.ca.


Pioneering evaluation theorists held the grand aspiration that program evaluation would evolve into a social practice that routinely leveraged science in service of the public good. However, as evaluation work becomes pervasive across health and educational programming, there is growing disillument about whether current routine evaluation work is in fact serving the public interest. Notably, there are associated concerns about the burdens associated with evaluation work. In this presentation, Betty will engage the audience in a thought-provoking presentation – that invites them to consider whether there is a need for an evaluation revival within health professions education. First, she will share findings from two recent studies. One will illustrate recent trends in evaluation practices within health professions education. The second focuses on evaluation practices within the context of accreditation. Specifically, the research examines critical tensions that surface during the day-to-day realities of practicing evaluation work within an accreditation-seeking environment. Betty will illustrate how these tensions – that are often masked within highly routinized practices – are in fact critical decision-points about evaluation’s scope, ownership, identity, and values. Implications for how these decision points can shape whether evaluation works in the public interest will be discussed.

In the latter part of the presentation, Betty will explore questions about what an evaluation revival could look like for health professions education. Should there be an agenda to transform evaluation practices within health professions education? And, what would it take for scholars and institutions to help spark such a revival?


Following her PhD in organizational psychology, Betty began her career helping organizations use evaluation to gain the insight needed to optimize or sustain programs and innovations. For the past decade, Betty has worked as an educator, leader, and scholar in diverse roles across the academic health sciences system; and she identifies strongly as a scientist-practitioner (or practitioner-scientist). Presently, she is the Director, Knowledge Mobilization for the Provincial System Support Program at the Canadian Association of Mental Health. Betty is also a cross-appointed scientist at the Wilson Centre in Toronto. She leads a SSHRC-funded, program of research that is focused on the science of evaluation. Notably, she is interested in questions about the socio-political dimensions of evaluation practice – as well as about how to advance evaluation methodologies in ways that can influence more equitable, and sustainable innovation.