IV-e Participatory Evaluation

Description of workshop contents

Community-based participatory methods can be used in describing the community, assessing community issues and needs, finding and choosing best practices, and evaluating results, processes and impacts. We often see most clearly what's actually happening in any intervention through the eyes of those directly involved in it - participants, staff, and others who are involved in taking part in and carrying out a program, initiative, or other project.

Participatory Evaluation, as we will see in this workshop, isn't simply a matter of asking stakeholders to take part or give their points of view. It is about radically rethinking who initiates and undertakes the evaluation process, and who learns or benefits from its findings. Involving everyone affected, it changes the whole nature of the evaluation. In a Participatory Evaluation, different actors involved in the intervention define what will be evaluated, who and when will participate, which data collecting and analysis methods will be used, and how results will be communicated. In this approach, professional evaluators, project staff, project beneficiaries or participants, as well as other community members, all become colleagues in an effort to improve the community's quality of life. Fundamentally, Participatory Evaluation is about sharing knowledge and building the evaluation skills of program beneficiaries and implementers, funders and others. The process seeks to honor the perspectives, voices, preferences and decisions of the least powerful and most affected stakeholders and program beneficiaries.

The workshop roots the evaluation framework within the guiding principles of Collaborative Approaches to Evaluation. This will help to understand that context matters and that any Participatory Evaluation project should be collaboratively designed and developed on the basis of stakeholder information needs and interests. During the workshop I will present the various ways by which Collaborative Approaches to Evaluation can be implemented, such as: self-assessment, stakeholder evaluation, internal evaluation, joint evaluation and so on, but I will concentrate mainly in the Participatory Evaluation approach. I will also illustrate how different tools can be used, such as: individual story-telling, participatory evaluation card games, participatory social mapping, causal-linkage and trend and change diagramming, scoring, and brainstorming on program strengths and weaknesses, etc.

The contents will be organized in four modules.

  1. Setting the context: the origins of participatory evaluation and other Collaborative Approaches to Evaluation. Key concepts and principles; advantages, challenges, potentialities and limitations of Participatory Evaluation.
  2. The method. Describing the Participatory Evaluation method, according to the following steps: (1) recruiting and training a stakeholder evaluation team; (2) naming and framing the evaluation object; (3) asking the right evaluation questions and identifying indicators; (4) gathering information, analyzing it and building consensus on results; and (5) communicating and using evaluation results and recommendations.
  3. Tools. Introduction to the wide range of tools that are essential to facilitating the process, such as: semi-structured interviewing, focus group, community mapping and innovative methods like simulation games.
  4. Examples/cases. At least one case will be used during the workshop to illustrate methods and tools that can be used in Participatory Evaluation.

Workshop Objectives

After the workshop, participants will have internalized the knowledge and practice that will allow them to answer the following questions:

  • What is Participatory Evaluation?
  • Which are the guiding principles behind Collaborative Approaches to Evaluation and Participatory Approaches to Evaluation?
  • Why would (and why wouldn't) we use Participatory Evaluation?
  • When would we use Participatory Evaluation?
  • Who should be involved (and why) in a Participatory Evaluation?
  • How do we facilitate and conduct a Participatory Evaluation?
  • What type of qualitative and participatory tools can we use for Participatory Evaluation processes?

Recommended for

The workshop is oriented to beginner and intermediate participants. This workshop can be particularly useful for (a) project managers who are responsible for the monitoring and evaluation of their programs, projects or organizations; (b) program staff of monitoring and evaluation units; (c) community leaders and community workers with project responsibilities; (d) consultants called upon to provide technical expertise in participatory and collaborative evaluation; and (e) evaluators who want to expand and innovate their evaluation toolbox.

Level

The workshop will begin with a review of basic terms and concepts associated with Participatory Evaluation and other related Collaborative Approaches to Evaluation, inviting participants to bring their own experiences and ideas into the conceptual framework. This introductory part will cover the background and contextual considerations, purposes, and justifications for selecting a participatory approach, highlighting the recent contributions made by Cousins et al. (2016) on developing principles to guide CAE.

The format of the workshop will vary between presentations and discussions combined with group exercises, where participants can share their knowledge and experiences as an attempt to apply concepts and tools to real situations. Participants will carry out a simulated Participatory Evaluation assignment, using some of the concepts and tools developed in the workshop.

Because its progressive and accumulative nature, it is very important that participants attend the workshop permanently and take active part on the exercises.

Prerequisites

Participants are expected to have a basic background in project management, monitoring and evaluation, with real practice in the field of social and economic development, particularly in the management of small scale development projects implemented by local government or NGOs.

Instructors

Esteban Tapella