Evaluation vs Assessment


Hello Everyone!

This past week, I was asked what’s the difference between assessment and evaluation. I defaulted to providing examples instead of concrete definitions. How do you define the difference between the two with and without examples?




This is normally how I differentiate:

-Evaluation is making some sort of value judgment about an object. How good, quality, useful, etc. is the thing?

-Assessment is determining the current condition of a thing – It is descriptive rather than judgmental in nature.

I am a psychotherapist, and in working with clients to determine their level of functioning, I am conducting assessment. I only evaluate the quality of my interventions with them based on the progress they are making.

That’s my understanding, hope it helps! Is this how you understand it?


I have always regarded assessment as a form of evaluation. Somehow more specifically evaluating a certain subject or thing.

The Google definition:
the evaluation or estimation of the nature, quality, or ability of someone or something.

But for some reason, the more I think about it, the more it just feels like splitting hairs.


@clysy and @awkates, thank you both for your thoughts! I greatly appreciate it!


To me, a main motivation for examining this question from @jrmolle2 is not just how these words are defined in the field but a) how it is practiced and b) how it is perceived by those connected-but-outside the field.

The practice bit seems to be what @clysy and @awkates are referencing to address - not answer, right? - the question, which is probably more productive.

As for how the words are perceived by those outside-yet-connected to The Field(s), I can’t say I know with any real certainty. I suspect that, while they both are formal, assessment might be seen as more so - maybe more operationalized, more structured and tightly framed.

But that’s all based on my teaching and ethnology background and my view that assessment is a type of eval, like @clysy noted. I think I agree with @awkates, too, as long as the assumption of objectivity of assessment is abandoned and that we accept that values are just less apparent in assessment - they are surely there!


Yes, the values are certainly still there in assessment. There seems to be a pre-determined or pre-applied set of values in place when assessment is done. For example, in a mental health assessment, the APA has applied some values about what is to be valuable for a person’s general well-being. The assessment is taking a measurement and then categorizing, which involves those implicit values generated by the APA.

And evaluation would be parallel, but grappling much more directly/explicitly with the values at hand and working out how exactly these should be applied.


I thank you immensely for these points. One of the reasons I was interested in understanding how others conceptualize these differences is to better explain these differences to others who are not in the field. After being asked to explain this a few times, I realized that I was only giving a partial answer…really a context-dependent explanation instead of a broader one that could be generalized better…hopefully, that makes sense :joy: