Mindful Evaluation

Note August 14, 2017: Errors in the original post have been corrected.


Giving  full attention to thoughts, sensations and feelings as well as what we are doing in the present moment; nonjudgmental sustained and focused observation of self; activities to understand at a deeper level what I know and how I know it.

Mindful evaluation is not an evaluation model. It is any evaluation in which the evaluator is deeply aware of the immediate situation and his influence on it throughout the entire evaluation exercise. Mindfulness is consistent with holistic thinking; I encourage transformative evaluators to explore it as an aspect of professional development.

Cullen Puente and Bender (2015) discuss seven steps to follow to increase mindfulness, which in turn increases sound decision making as an evaluator.

1.Take time to think through your intention for incorporating mindfulness principles into your evaluation practice. Visualize yourself being more mindful in each stage of the evaluation. Set aside a specific regular time to practice various ways of being more mindful; practice, practice, practice.

Many web sites describe varieties of exercises to cultivate different aspects of mindfulness. For example, this site describes exercises for experiencing sensations from your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc. at a deeper level, and then reflecting on the feelings and thoughts that follow. Retrieve from http://www.practicingmindfulness.com/16-simple-mindfulness-exercises/.

2.Cultivate your ability to pay attention while disregarding distractors.

3.Become more aware of your emotions; accept them as legitimate aspects of who you are. The more you can allow them to be part of your conscious experience, the more you understand how they shape your thinking, the less they will interfere with objective data analysis and interpretation.

Explore your perspectives on cultural, economic, political, social and linguistic matters; these perspectives influence your interpretation of cognitive input with or without your awareness. Heighten your awareness to enrich your evaluation practice and reveal personal preferences that can taint evaluation findings.

4.Cultivate self-reflexivity by asking yourself what you are doing at the moment and why. Think through what constitutes evidence that supports a conclusion. Think through different types of truth, and the many ways we have of distorting our perceptions to fit our preconceived notions about probable evaluation findings. Continually explore your understanding of what is real and not real; what is credible knowledge and what is not.

5.Practice deep listening. Good listeners can elicit more information from others. Also, they may encourage others to reflect on what they are sharing, which may lead to richer information.

6.Stay curious and open. Practice being child-like, playful with your thoughts, as you apply your evaluative skills.

7.Creatively mitigate the influence of preconceived ideas and personal biases.

For a more detailed discussion read

Cullen Puente , Anne and Bender, April. (2015). Mindful Evaluation: Cultivating Our Ability to Be Reflexive and Self‐Aware. Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation. 11:25, 51-59. http://www.jmde.com

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