Category Archives: Resources

Focus Group Guidelines

The purpose of a focus group in an evaluation is to determine perceptions, feelings and ways of thinking about various aspects of the evaluand. Unfortunately this important method for collecting data appears to be relatively easy to use. As a consequence the required rigor for preparing the data collectors, selecting participants and implementing the group discussion may not be employed. This will reduce substantially the value of data collected.

The attached file is a set of guidelines for using this important method more rigorously. Comments and suggestions welcome.

LINK → Focus Group Guidelines


Template…Evaluation Planning Workbook

After I have accepted an invitation to lead an evaluation team I prepare a three-ring binder with tabs for the topics shown in the attached template. Relevant information can come in many different forms; the binder is a convenient way of storing and organizing it. This workbook becomes a primary resource for keeping the evaluation focused and  identifying strengths and weaknesses of the exercise.

Your comments and suggestions are welcome!  Click link → 75Eval Planning Workbook

Improving Your Evaluation Work through Reflective Practice

Reflective practice is thoughtful consideration of one’s own professional actions for the purpose of improving one’s professional practice. It has a long history. Various professions encourage their practitioners to engage in this type of professional development, particularly education and medicine.

The attached paper introduces it to program evaluators. I believe it is an essential practice for transformative evaluators because TE includes perspectives and skills that are not common in program evaluators. Reflective Practice can assist you in identifying obstacles that you encounter as you seek to

  • understand a transformative approach to evaluation at a deeper level
  • become more skilled in devising and applying appropriate behaviors in collecting and analyzing valid information related to transformative outputs and outcomes
  • report results in ways that provoke transformative thinking about improving facilitation of transformational community development.

There are many resources on the Internet. Relatively recent books not included in the paper:

Moon. Jennifer A., 2005, Reflection in Learning and Professional Development: theory and practice, London: Kogan

Bolton, Gillie E J, 2010, Reflective Practice: Writing and Professional Development, Sage Publications

Thompson, Sue and Neil Thompson, 2008, The Critically Reflective Practitioner, Palgrave Macmillan

Click link to the paper: 66Reflective Practice

Evaluation Books and Papers I Keep Close at Hand

Previously I recommended five non-evaluation  books that help me formulate foundational principles for transformative evaluation.  Click link

There are two evaluation books that I consider most relevant for transformative evaluators that have a good understanding of the general principles of program evaluation.

Fourth Generation Evaluation, by Egon G. Guba and Yvonne S. Lincoln, is a comprehensive description of constructivist evaluation. This approach, which is an alternative to evaluation approaches that are based on a scientific epistemology, provides the framework for designing and implementing transformative evaluation.

Transformative Research and Evaluation, by Donna M. Mertens, describes evaluation as a means to promote human rights and social justice. This is an important component of transformative evaluation.

The attached file is a list of other evaluation references that are helpful to me. May they be helpful to you on your journey toward being a transformative evaluator.  Click link:  Eval Books 2015

Representing the focus of an evaluation

There are two different emphases in program evaluation. One is to demonstrate accountability for achieving goals on time within budget. The other is to document learning about program theory and program implementation.

This paper describes a focus diagram that can be used with stakeholders to negotiate the relative emphasis on accountability and learning with the resources available for the evaluation. The diagram can also be used to show similarities and differences between different approaches to evaluation.

Click this link → Focusing an Evaluation