Table of Contents
Traditional evaluation is often seen as something that is done to people (Patton, 1990). Participatory evaluation is different. It is a bottom-up approach to evaluation that is guided either partially or fully by interested program participants, staff, board members, and community members. Participants ask the questions, plan the evaluation design, gather and analyze data, and determine actions to take based on the results (Zukoski and Lulaquisen, 2002). Throughout the process, participants' perspectives are weighted equally to those of the evaluator (Kellogg, 1998). Because of its focus on empowerment, participatory evaluation may be particularly well suited for EE programs (McDuff and Jacobson, 2001).
The following table highlights some of the advantages and disadvantages of participatory evaluation.
|May be less expensive than hiring an external evaluator||Process requires more time|
|Gives participants more control over decision-making||Demands more coordination and is often more challenging to facilitate|
|Participants feel responsible for the results and are more committed
to the success of the program
|Requires investment in evaluation training for participants|
|Collaborative process builds and strengthens participants’ relationships||Requires committed and motivated participants|
|Evaluation results are more likely to
be acted on
|Staff turnover at inopportune time would be very disruptive|
|Increases participants’ knowledge of
the program, skills in leadership, group decision-making, and evaluation
Adapted from Zukoski and Lulaquisen (2002).
To learn more about participatory evaluation, review:
Participatory evaluation does not have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. If you like the idea, but prefer to keep some aspects of the evaluation under the control of program staff or the evaluator, you can combine traditional and participatory approaches. Keep in mind that the choice of participatory, traditional or a mixed approach should be based on the purposes of your evaluation, as well as the constraints under which you are working.
This policy brief provides an introduction to participatory evaluation. As suggested by the title, it defines participatory evaluation, explains reasons for conducting it and the challenges involved. Public health examples are included. Other information includes a table comparing participatory and traditional evaluation, a list of guiding principles, an explanation of when it is most useful, a list of relevant techniques, and steps for conducting participatory evaluation.
These two studies describe a participatory needs assessment and participatory evaluation of the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, Africa’s largest EE organization for youth. Details are provided on the process, tools, and results of each. The second study also discusses the relevance of participatory evaluation for EE programs, and describes how the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya used evaluation results to institutionalize evaluation and improve its programs.
Beginner Intermediate Advanced
This handbook provides concrete guidance on how to conduct a participatory evaluation, describes the evolution of the approach, and compares it with conventional evaluation. Part Five is a stand-alone training module that can be used as a mini-workshop on participatory evaluation. It describes the steps in conducting a participatory evaluation using a case study on a rural water supply project. The appendices provide examples of participatory evaluation tools, and additional resources.
The advantages to involving youth in evaluation typically outweigh the disadvantages but there are some associated challenges that are worth noting. For example, some busy young people may lack the time to participate in evaluation, or they may become frustrated if there is insufficient adult support. Some adults may believe that youth lack the expertise needed for evaluation, or they may be uncomfortable sharing their power with young people (Checkoway and Richards-Schuster, 2003). Talking openly about such potential stumbling blocks early on is likely to help you find ways to avoid them.
If your EE program involves youth, consider offering them a meaningful role as evaluators. Imagine what it would be like if they were invited to serve as consultants, evaluation team members, or even leaders of the evaluation. The opportunity may:
Checkoway and Richards-Schuster (2003)
The following resources provide details on how to involve youth in participatory evaluation, along with other relevant information.
Though there are some exceptions, many of the considerations pertaining to involving youth can also apply to adults. Adults are also busy people and may require coaching, nurturing, and facilitation in evaluation. The participatory process is not only an approach to evaluation; it can be a tool for building an empowered and committed community, whether with youth or with adults.
Jackson, E.T. and Y. Kassam. Knowledge Shared. (1998). Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, p. 3.
Kellogg Foundation. (1998). W.K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook. Retrieved August 2010 at: http://ww2.wkkf.org/DesktopModules/WKF.00_DmaSupport/ ViewDoc.aspx?fld=PDFFile&CID=281&ListID=28&ItemID=2810770&LanguageID=0
McDuff, M. and S. Jacobson. (2001). Participatory evaluation of environmental education: Stakeholder assessment of the wildlife clubs of Kenya. Retrieved August, 2010 at: http://www.multilingual-matters.net/irgee/010/0127/irgee0100127.pdf
Sabo, K. (2001). The benefits of participatory evaluation for children and youth. PLA Notes. 42: 48-51. Retrieved August, 2010 at: http://www.planotes.org/documents/plan_04210 .pdf
Patton, M.Q. (1990). Qualitative Evaluation Methods. Beverly Hill, CA: Sage Publications.
Zukoski, A. and M. Lulaquisen. (2002). Participatory Evaluation. What is it? Why do it? What are the challenges? Community-based public health: Policy and practice. Retrieved June, 2006 at: http://depts.washington.edu/ccph/ pdf_files/Evaluation.pdf