Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

What is participatory evaluation?

When you contract for evaluation services, do you ever wonder what participatory evaluation actually means? Is it better than traditional evaluation? The answer is yes!

Sometimes evaluation can be viewed as something “done to people”. When the evaluator shows up at your location do you feel like you are being audited? In participatory evaluation you are the evaluator. The evaluators you have contracted with are there to help you, to facilitate, to teach methodology, and to answer your questions. 

In participatory evaluation stakeholders such as program directors and coalition members are actively involved in the evaluation process. You will help plan, design, collect data, analyze, interpret, and report your own evaluation. Participatory evaluation is somewhat like training. Your contracted evaluators are there to teach you the process so you will be better prepared to facilitate your own evaluation in the future.

Participatory evaluation is different from traditional evaluation in 2 distinct ways:

  1. It is a learning experience for you. In order to build your capacity so you can be sustainable in the future.
  2. You actually conduct the evaluation. The contract evaluators are there to facilitate the process. Providing a supporting role as mentor, trainer, negotiator, and methodologist.

When you conduct your evaluation it not only improves your skills, but it creates a shared commitment among stakeholders to act on your recommendations and increases the likelihood that the evaluation information will be used to implement improvements and changes to programs.

A major theme of the Strategic Prevention Framework is capacity building and sustainability. This type of evaluation increases the capacity in your own community and helps you to be sustainable in the future.

References:

http://meera.snre.umich.edu/plan-an-evaluation/plonearticlemultipage.2007-10-30.3630902539/participatory-evaluation

http://www.people.cornell.edu/pages/alr26/parEval.html

By Desiree Reynolds,   2/24/2009