Empowerment evaluation: new materials at EvalParticipativa

by Pablo Rodríguez Bilella

As outlined in the planned activities for EvalParticipativa’s second stage, we are keen to keep adding to the RESOURCES section of our community of practice and learning.

As our colleagues and friends already know, the section already hosts a wide variety of testimonial videos, guides and manuals, tools, case studies and significant lessons. We highlight new and updated material that we add to the repository on our social networks, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn: another reason to follow us online!

In this post, we want to highlight four recent additions to the Guides and Manuals section. They all share a clear theme: the empowerment evaluation approach. Although participatory evaluation is the general or umbrella term that refers to stakeholder involvement in evaluation processes in Latin America, the same is not true in the Anglo-Saxon context, where nuances between different evaluation approaches that include or involve stakeholders are more commonly accentuated.

David Fetterman is a strong proponent of distinguishing between the subtleties of approaches. He has pioneered and encouraged the use of empowerment evaluation, and believes there is much value in highlighting the particularities of each approach. In the same vein, a chapter of our handbook Sowing & Harvesting is dedicated to introducing several of these approaches, and we have also published articles on this platform such as Brad Cousin’s Collaborative approaches to evaluation and Emma Rotondo’s Stakeholder empowerment in evaluation.

The materials we wish to highlight today focus in different ways on empowerment evaluation. We will now summarise them below so that potential readers can be aware of their contributions.

The first and only one in Spanish is Evaluación participativa del empoderamiento juvenil con grupos de jóvenes (Participatory evaluation of youth empowerment in youth groups. Cases analysis. The article reveals how young people’s interpretations of their own realities are key to understanding their actions and behaviours and key for adapting social and educational projects and programmes to new social dynamics. The article analyses these interpretations in four participatory evaluation processes with 42 young people aged between 14 and 25 years old in 4 Spanish cities.

The second, An introduction to collaborative, participatory and empowerment evaluation approaches is the introductory chapter of a book that presents the theory and practice of collaborative, participatory and empowerment evaluations; all evaluation approaches that involve stakeholder participation.

This chapter outlines characteristics unique to each, and how they are addressed and understood in the Anglo-Saxon evaluation field.

The third contribution is the article Empowerment evaluation: A stakeholder involvement approach, which introduces empowerment evaluation in a succinct manner and emphasises how it involves the use of concepts, techniques and evaluation findings aimed at promoting stakeholder improvement and self-determination. It is carried out by community and programme staff members, with the assistance of a professional evaluator. The approach aims to increase the likelihood of programmes achieving results by increasing the capacity of programme stakeholders to plan, implement and evaluate their own programmes.

Finally, the chapter Empowerment evaluation: principles in practice. Assessing levels of commitment, argues that as evaluation practice means applying the principles to real-world situations, the reality of practice is disorderly and often full of nuances, compromise, and inherent tensions. The chapter discusses how the principles of empowerment evaluation guide the practice of this evaluation type. The principles include (1) improvement, (2) community ownership, (3) inclusion, (4) democratic participation, (5) social justice, (6) community knowledge (knowledge closely related to practice), (7) evidence-based strategies (e.g., interventions, practices), (8) capacity development, (9) organisational learning, and (10) accountability.

We trust that you will find these materials enlightening and that they will help our practices to continually integrate these principles and objectives.

Leave a Reply