Monthly Archives: August 2013

Discerning conclusions

A conclusion is the answer to a specific question included in the evaluation design, or an interpretation of outcomes related to a particular information need. 

In general discernment is the ability of an evaluator to see what is not obvious to the typical stakeholder. For transformative evaluation discernment goes beyond this to see what is right and wrong, good and evil, in the program from God’s perspective.

For a more detailed discussion go to page 19 in Evaluating Transformational Development Outcomes on this site. I encourage you to comment, perhaps starting a dialogue that will help me and others deepen understanding of this topic/issue.

Evaluation wheel for participatory evaluation

The evaluation wheel is a graphic device for comparing evaluands on specific criteria. (Remember that an evaluand is a fancy word for whatever is being evaluated.) It is a versatile tool that can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Individuals can use it to indicate strengths and weaknesses of their performance on some task over a period of time.
  • As a group exercise it can illuminate differences in perceived strengths and weaknesses of something by the group members. A composite wheel is constructed from wheels completed by individuals.
  • As a multi-group exercise it enables comparison of perceived strengths and weaknesses of something as perceived by the different groups.

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What is transformational development (TD)

Transformational development (TD) is the evaluand for my approach to transformative evaluation (TE). My understanding of TD is based on the detailed description and analysis provided by Myers (1999, 2011)

I see two themes intertwined in TD. The first theme is the role of holistic thinking in planning and implementing TD. Holistic thinking is a mindset in which spiritual realities are inseparably interwoven with day-to-day “ordinary” living. In TD practitioners must think holistically to be influential servants of God for transformation.

The second theme is the conviction that this world is my home (Marshall, 1998). Transformation happens here and now, wherever we are on earth, not in whatever your image of heaven may be.

These themes are developed beginning on page 3, heading Transformational Development Themes, in Evaluating Transformational Development Outcomes on this site.

Engaging in evaluating TD has given me indescribable joy. May your thinking about TD be a blessing to you.

References
Marshall, Paul. (1998). Heaven is not my home: Learning to live in God’s creation. Nashville, Tennessee USA: Word.

Myers, Bryant L. (1999, 2011). Walking with the poor: Principles and practices of transformational development. Maryknoll, New York USA: Orbis Books.

What is different about evidence in TE

Typically a program evaluation involves searching for knowledge that we can use to change the world so that it is more like our vision of the good life.  An alternative approach to evaluation involves understanding how a program helps and hinders transformation of individuals and society. To understand transformation we need to seek faith-based knowledge as well as empirical knowledge.

I share two illustrations of how topics in TE can be organized to evaluate a transformational development program.

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