Clearly there is an overlap between these two terms. If we are to evaluate an educational experience or project it would involve ‘researching’ data that can tell us whether or not it has achieved it objectives or had an impact on its participants. But if we understand ‘research’ as being the quest to uncover new knowledge or information it might not be the same thing as evaluation. So, for example, we might do an evaluation project that uncovers data about how things have changed but ‘research’ into the project would try to uncover the reasons that have caused things. This in turn can lead to new theories and generalisations on the research topic. This the view outlined by Oliver, Harvey, Conole and Jones (2007):
“The relationship between evaluation and research more generally remains contested. Evaluation can, in fact, contribute to research as well as providing feedback for changing teaching and learning practice. Both processes use the same methods and study the same things. However, one way to distinguish them is to consider how findings are used. If they are interpreted by an immediate, local audience and used to support decision making, the study was probably and evaluation; if findings are interpreted in terms of theories and presented as a contribution to knowledge, it was probably research (Oliver, Harvey Conole and Jones, 2007:203).
Oliver, Martin; Harvey, Jen; Conole, Grainne and Ann, Jones (2007). Evaluation.In: Conole, Grainne and Oliver, Martin eds. Contemporary perspectives in e-learning research; themes, methods and impact on practice. Open and flexible learning series. Abingdon, Oxon: RoutledgeFalmer.