Teams of three to five students compete in the analysis of an evaluation case file that is available in English and French. English-speaking and French-speaking students from all disciplines and all levels of post-secondary study are welcome to participate. There is no limit to the number of teams from a given institution.

In a preliminary competition, on a designated date, all teams receive the key to an evaluation case file that has been hidden on the Web. They have 5.5 hours to prepare an analysis then submit it by e-mail for judging by a bilingual panel of experts. The top three teams are invited to participate in a final round, held at the Canadian Evaluation Society's annual conference, in which they must analyse a new case and present findings and recommendations before a live audience.

The 3 finalist teams are given free conference registration, and up to 80% of the costs of travel, accommodations, meals and CES membership. Most teams get sponsorship from their home university or other sources for the remaining 20%.

The team that makes the best presentation takes possession of the Case Competition Plaque for a year, receives prizes and is given visibility on the CES website.

All participants are given the opportunity to provide a two-page resume which is shared with the competition sponsors.

General rules

  1. There must be at least three and no more than five members to a team.
  2. Coaches are asked to ensure they provide the time and attention to coaching that teams require. To this end, we encourage each coach to submit a maximum of two teams. The focus should be on ensuring teams have support in preparing for the competition and in learning about evaluation.
  3. All team members must be registered in a university or college program (undergraduate or graduate, full or part time). A student is defined as an individual enrolled in a Canadian university or a Canadian or permanent resident of Canada enrolled at a non-Canadian university. However, a team from a non-Canadian university may also include students from other countries as long as there at least two Canadian or permanent residents of Canada on the team. Team members may be from any academic discipline. Coaches may be professors or individuals with experience and expertise in evaluation who can provide guidance in helping students prepare for the competition.
  4. All students, including previous finalists, can compete as often as they like while enrolled in studies. In an effort to share knowledge and expertise, we recommend that finalist teams from previous years 'split up' and join with other students from their university who have not competed or made the final round. For example, a team could be made up of two previous finalists and three others.
  5. Teams may be coached prior to the competition but coaches must not communicate with their teams once the teams have received the case.
  6. In preparing their submissions, teams are at liberty to explore any public information source such as would be accessible by a consulting group. For example, they may consult books or articles, search libraries, use the Internet, and so forth. Team members are free to leave the work-site and take refreshment as they wish but they may communicate only within the team. They are not to communicate with their coach.

Suggestions: Have fun! Share responsibility and control within the group. Remember, it is not important whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.

Preliminary round

  1. For the competition each team must organize: a place to work, an Internet connection to enable downloading of the case and a printer to produce copies of the case for each team member.
  2. Teams must select a contact person. The day before round one of the competition, the contact person will be sent an email with a team identification number and a link to a secure website.
  3. Once this website is accessed on the round one competition day, the team will have 5.5 hours to complete the case and upload their submission to the same website.
  4. Your submission must be one PDF document – not a zipped file of multiple documents.
  5. Submissions should be concise. Judges will look for quality, rather than quantity, in the advice from teams.
  6. Judges must not know the real identity of the teams. Thus, throughout their submission, teams should identify themselves only by an imaginative, non-revealing code name, such as Noble Consultants. Do not use the word “evaluation” or any variation on “evaluation” in your team name. Also they should not include the name of their university, province or city in the submission.
  7. Judges may take up to one month to select the top three submissions and provide feedback for all teams.

Final round

  1. Teams should bring their own laptop computers loaded with MS PowerPoint software for preparation of their presentation and a USB key to save the case presentation. Food will be provided by the competition organizers in the preparation room, but teams can also bring snacks. Organizers may interrupt teams briefly to take pictures of members at work preparing their presentation.
  2. Teams will have five hours to complete the case. One of the organizers will then collect the USB containing the presentation. The team will then have a 60 minute break before presenting to the judges.
  3. The presentations may be recorded on video.
  4. Presentations should be no longer than 20 minutes. A time-keeper will give warning as the end of the presentation period approaches.
  5. Judges and the audience will have up to 10 minutes after the presentation to ask questions of the team.

Criteria for scoring

The following table provides teams and judges with a previous example of the assessment criteria. However, the uniqueness of each case necessitates flexibility in the evaluation process. See previous cases on our website for the various criteria that have been used.

Demonstration of an understanding of the program 5%
Appropriateness of the logic model 10%
Clarity, completeness and appropriateness of evaluation matrix 25%
Appropriateness of (and rationale for) the evaluation design, data collection and analysis plan 20%
An assessment of challenges and how these will be addressed 15%
Quality of the draft information collection tools 10%
Innovative ideas or detailed practical suggestions 5%
Quality of the proposal (writing and presentation) 10%
Total 100%


Is there a video of past case competitions? How do I get a copy?
There are videos of the 2011 and 2012 final round presentations on our website.
Who can serve as a coach?
Coaches should be individuals with expertise in evaluation who can provide guidance to teams in preparing for the competition. In past competitions coaches have come from different settings:
  • Professors who coach students in one of their courses.
  • Professors who coach teams made up of students from different faculties
  • In one case, A CES Chapter has appointed a coach from the membership who works in evaluation. This individual coaches and gets other chapter members involved as judges for ‘dry runs’ that the teams work on.
    Are teams allowed to substitute team members for the preliminary or final round of the case competition?
    Yes, you can. For the preliminary round, you can change or include any team member, provided that the new team member is a student under the definition of the case competition, and that you have no more than five team members participating in the first round.

    Under extenuating circumstances, you are permitted to substitute an alternate team member if they cannot be part of the final round, provided that there are at least 3 original team members on your team during the final round. For more information or clarification, please discuss this with the case competition organizing committee.

    Once you have decided on your replacement, you can either email to the committee or change your registration on the Case Competition Web site.