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.
In addition to the content of a basic monitoring and evaluation curriculum I believe that the following research methodology topics should be learned thoroughly by anyone engaged in Transformational Development monitoring and evaluation.
Technical competence needs to be nuanced by insights that come as he or she engages in spiritual disciplines such as Bible study and reflection, prayer, fasting, etc.
- Field interview techniques for sensitive topics and in different cultures.
- Participatory approaches to inquiry.
- Focus group principles and methods. link to focus group guide
- Ordinal measures and common statistics tests for ordinal measures.
- Analysis and interpretation of Likert scale results from multiple perspectives.
- Characteristics of trustworthy qualitative data and procedures to increase trustworthiness.
- Logic of statistical inference and interpretation of statistical findings. Although statistics is advanced mathematics the logic of inference and interpretation can be understood without necessarily understanding the complex math formulas.
I know this will take time! A good evaluator continually updates his or her knowledge and adds skill sets.
August 16, 2013; updated April 17, 2015
My definition of Transformative Evaluation evolved over a period of several years. Currently (2015) I define it like this (for detailed discussion see Model for TE):
Transformative evaluation examines transformational community development programs. The primary focus for TE is to facilitate deeper understanding of what really matters in community development, with emphasis on development programs as a vehicle for facilitating individual and social transformation from within a Christian worldview. Primary stakeholders, including representatives of faith groups in the community, participate with the evaluator in making major decisions throughout the exercise. The evaluation design and implementation are consistent with a constructivist paradigm for inquiry along with principles for thinking and acting holistically.
In 2013 I described TE in this way:
Transformative evaluation is holistic evaluation of a transformational development program that includes the objective of renewing the evaluator’s thinking and stakeholders’ views regarding what really matters in transformational development (Cookingham, 2013, p. 10).
What is holistic evaluation?
Holistic program evaluation is the facilitation of informed judgments about the merit or worth of a program, based on verifiable evidence, in relation to people loving God and neighbor within the scope of the program (Cookingham, 2013, p.7). Click on the “holism” tag to see scripture meditations related to evaluation from a holism perspective (note added 20 JUL 2015).
For a detailed discussion of the conceptual journey go to page 6, Evolution of Transformative Evaluation (TE), 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 the concept of evaluation in general and TE in particular.
Cookingham, Frank G. (2013). Evaluating transformational development outcomes. Monrovia, California USA: World Vision International.
The attached file is an overview of my approach to Transformative Evaluation (TE) as it has evolved in the past 15 years. The 28 pages are the foundation for posts on this site. The major sections:
- My understanding of transformational development
- Evolution of the definition of TE
- Illustrations of content that may be examined in an evaluation
- Implications for implementing this approach
May those of you who choose to dive in be provoked to see yourself as a Christian that does program evaluation in professional ways to bring glory to God rather than an evaluator that happens to be Christian.
Click link: Evaluating Transformational Development Outcomes
It takes disciplined effort to be a Christian evaluator rather than an evaluator that is Christian. The attached file is an introduction to meditations that I will share periodically on this site. Each meditation will apply a passage of Scripture to some aspect of evaluation. May they bless you in some way that is pleasing to God.
Click this link → EvalFrank post let scripture inform your work
This paper is based on a chapel message preached at World Vision International (WVI) in Monrovia, California July 17, 2013. The message has been modified slightly so that it can make sense to those who are not familiar with WVI. Scripture passages are from the NIV.
This morning I will look at Scriptural foundations for four ways of looking at transformational development. Continue reading
Some time ago I became concerned that “participatory evaluation” was being used to refer to vastly different evaluation approaches. One evaluation report called a participatory evaluation merely surveyed a sample of people, but there was no engagement by the evaluator with anyone about any aspect of the evaluation process. Apparently simply responding to a questionnaire was considered participation.
Other evaluation reports varied widely in the extent to which the evaluator engaged with others in designing and implementing an evaluation. I prepared a simple tool for rating the extent to which an evaluator engaged others while carrying out the evaluation. The tool is attached below. I welcome comments on the usefulness of the tool and other ways of determining the extent to which an evaluation can meaningfully be called a participatory evaluation.
Tool Assessment of Strength of Participation in an Evaluation