New Resources on Participatory Evaluation and Impact Evaluation

The term “evaluation” can often be intimidating to people who don’t work in the field or for people who are just beginning an evaluation, and we would like to make their purpose simple. Evaluations serve to answer the questions: What is important? What is working and what isn’t? How we can make changes to improve the process or program? How is our program improving things? What impact are we having? In other words, evaluations are the “systematic assessment of the design, implementation or results of a program or process for the purposes of learning or decision-making”1. Evaluations tend to have three main purposes:

  1. Accountability
  2. Program development
  3. Knowledge  generation2

Evaluations may also have different focuses and approaches depending on the needs of stakeholders’ and evaluators’, the uniqueness of the setting in which the evaluation is taking place, and the special considerations of the program or process that is being evaluated.

 

We have developed two resources that might be useful to you:

PartEvalParticipatory Evaluation Primer – This primer will provide you with background knowledge about what purposes evaluations serve, and how to improve program/intervention support and better usability of evaluation results through participatory approaches.

Participatory Evaluation is a type of evaluation that is “about sharing knowledge and building the evaluation skills of program beneficiaries and implementers, funders and others3, which includes peers, people with lived experience, and the people who use a program. It is a collaborative approach to evaluation that is not necessarily concerned about what methods to use, but rather whose voices to include, how to include them, and how to determine who will have the final say about the collected results. Participatory evaluation values the processes of the evaluation itself (not just the outcomes) that aspire to promote democratic inclusion, empowerment, better program support and increase the usability of evaluation results.

Participatory evaluation, just like any type of evaluation, can evaluate a program by measuring the processes, the outcomes, or the impacts that a program has on its users and/or the setting it is in. We will describe evaluations that focus on the measurement of impacts next.


ImpactEvalImpact Evaluation Primer
–This primer provides you with the background knowledge necessary to better understand what impact evaluations are, what purposes they serve, and what benefits they have.

 Impact Evaluations (or evaluations that measure impact) “provide information about the impacts produced by an intervention – whether they are positive or negative, intended or unintended, direct or indirect”4

Evaluations can be quite flexible in nature and evaluators may wish to combine components of two or more types of evaluations for relevancy and accuracy. For instance, Participatory Impact Evaluations use participatory methods to measure change or impact attributed to a certain program or intervention5.

References:

  1. From http://evaluationcanada.ca/what-is-evaluation
  2. From Chelimsky, E. (1997) “Thoughts for a new evaluation society”
  3. From https://depts.washington.edu/ccph/pdf_files/Evaluation.pdf
  4. From http://www.betterevaluation.org/themes/impact_evaluation
  5. From http://fic.tufts.edu/assets/PIA-guide_revised-2014-3.pdf

MeganWritten by: Megan Deyman, UVIC MPH Student

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