Category Archives: TE Theory

Transformative Evaluation Overview–6 Slide Shows

This post contains links to six brief slide shows that provide orientation to the distinctive features of Transformative Evaluation. The shows are in PDF format.

94orientation1 TE overview…Brief description of each critical feature. Includes a group exercise to see if people in an agency want to explore implications for the agency.

94orientation2 core belief…Description of the core belief that justifies TE as an approach to evaluation for a Christian agency.

94orientation3 TE theory of program change…Description of the theory of change in individuals and institutions for transformation development, which is the primary evaluand for TE.

94orientation4 TE overview…Description of three critical features of objectivity in TE. There is a more detailed description of objectivity at objectivity-in-te.

94Orientation5 Mission Results in TE…Description of mission results that can be achieved through TE.

Orientation6 Spiritual Disciplines in TE…Description of use of spiritual disciplines in TE.

Search for other posts related to topics that interest you. As always, constructive critiques are welcome.

Evaluation Model for TE

I have developed a general framework for comparing different approaches to evaluation. The framework is based on seven aspects of an evaluation exercise.  

Note February 2017. Click this link to see the framework; continue reading for an application of the framework to TE. Evaluation Model as a Concept

In this paper I describe those seven aspects of a particular approach to evaluating a transformational community development program that I call transformative evaluation (TE). I also contrast the TE description with the analogous aspects found in some other approaches to evaluation. There may be common features between approaches but I emphasize those features that set TE apart from other approaches.

 My model for TE is not carved in stone. Each time I prepare it the result can differ in some aspects from previous presentations. But the seven elements of the framework remain constant. In April 2015 my summary of the model is:

 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.

This file describes the TE model in detail.  LINK: 78Evaluation Model for TE for evalFrank2

This file is cited in the detailed file for the model. LINK: http://evalfrank.com/2014/11/frame-for-thinking-about-te/

Frame for Thinking about TE

The attached file is a detailed description of topics to consider while thinking about Transformative Evaluation. There are four sections in the paper.

The first section describes the nature of a conceptual frame as an outcome of frame reflection by which people explore how their own actions may worsen contention, contribute to stalemate, trigger extreme pendulum swings, or move toward pragmatic solution.  It was developed by Schon and Rein (1994) as a way of resolving intractable policy controversies.  I apply this concept to create a frame for transformational development (TD), which is the primary evaluand for TE. Then I describe a frame for exploring TE information needs.

The second section describes implications of TD theory for evaluation design.

The third section discusses the characteristics of development workers that should be considered in planning TE. Since the effectiveness of TD is dependent on how the development worker interacts with community residents and stakeholders, this is an essential element of TE.

The final section describes some examples of TE frames.

Various aspects of this paper may need to be studied several times before you believe that you understand it. I welcome your comments, suggestions and challenges to the substance, as well as suggestions for presenting the material in a more understandable way.

LINK Frame for TE

Sin and Grace in Transformative Evaluation

Examining the dynamics of sin and grace in a community development project is a unique feature of Transformative Evaluation. To review the features of my approach to TE see “Defining Transformative Evaluation.”      Click  LINK

I have posted a discussion of the nature of sin and grace on this site, along with some considerations for planning and implementing TE.       Click 67Sin and Grace

Also I have posted interview or conversation  guides and a list of scriptures to help us develop this aspect of TE in more depth.

Click conversation guide sin

Click conversation guide Grace

Click 67scriptures sin and grace

See also various meditations posted on the site that are tagged “sin” or “grace”.

I pray that you will challenge some of my ideas about this critical area so that I may understand it at a deeper level.

Principles for Holistically Planning an Evaluation

I define planning holistically as figuring out what God intends for me to do that enters into the work that God is doing around me.  If I am planning an evaluation, what is it that will bring glory to God through the evaluation work?  What is God already doing in what I will evaluate, and how will doing the evaluation enter into that?

The attached file describes four principles for planning an evaluation holistically. Briefly the principles are these.

 1. Base your plans on Scripture.

In a holistic planning process the participants meditate on appropriate Scripture passages throughout the planning exercise.  Weave this meditation throughout the activities of the day and week as a constant reminder that consistency with God’s word is essential for any plan called holistic.

2. Focus the plan on relationships.

Focus holistic planning products and processes on the quality of relationships, with special concern for holiness in those relationships.  Holiness, not shallow piety.

 3. Keep the bigger picture in mind.

A holistic plan describes the context, or the bigger picture of reality, for implementing a particular project.  Such a plan describes how intended results will enable individual and social transformation. Transformation, not just better conditions.

 4. Invite the Holy Spirit to lead the process.

Planning holistically is much more than filling in the boxes in a chart.  It is learning about what God intends for you, and for those around you.

I welcome your comments and suggestions.  Click link for detailed discussion: 65Holistic Planning Principles

Five Principles for TE

© World Vision International 2007, All Rights Reserved.  No part of this document or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author.

These principles were inspired by the study materials for Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby and Claude King (Lifeway Press, 2007 revision).  This post is a summary of the principles. A paper is available with scripture reflections for the principles; post a comment to request a copy of the paper.

1. Truth is a person

The foundational principle is that truth is a person, not a set of empirically verified set of cause-effect relationships. 

In John 14 Jesus describes this principle, which is briefly stated in John14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  That is, truth is experienced in personal relationship with Jesus, not in understanding the causes of effects in the physical or social realms.

2. Engaging the will is more important than increasing knowledge

Transformative evaluation is more about engaging the will of partners (stakeholders) than adding to their knowledge.

Traditional evaluation often is viewed as the collection and organization of knowledge to help stakeholders make better programmatic decisions.  In transformative evaluation the emphasis is on facing difficult truths in love with the will to live by God’s truth.

3. Analysis is discernment

Analysis of information is guided by spiritual discernment. 

Typical data analysis in traditional evaluation involves examining sets of observations or information shared in interviews for common themes that are related to the evaluation objectives.  Although this is done to some extent in transformative evaluation, emphasis is placed on discerning what God is doing in the situation evaluated, or what God is revealing about Himself or His purposes or His ways in the situation.

4. Transformative recommendations point to the holistic core of programming

Transformative recommendations describe adjustments stakeholders need to make to align program work with what God is doing. 

This is counter to the view that recommendations involve improving program effectiveness or efficiency from a worldly perspective.  Implementing a recommendation may lead to more effective or efficient programs, but only if it is aligned with what God is doing through that program.  Transformative recommendations are based on God’s purposes, not our previous plans.

5. Evaluator competence is more than technical expertise

Transformative evaluator competence is defined in terms of spiritual maturity as well as technical expertise.

 

Evaluation as Discernment of Truth

A most difficult challenge facing the Christian program evaluator is reconciling truth as defined in scripture with truth as defined by secular evaluators. The way you answer this challenge will greatly influence the way you plan and implement program evaluations.

In this brief paper I show my answer to this challenge by analyzing my original secular definition of program evaluation years ago from a scriptural perspective. Let’s talk!

Click this link → Program Evaluation as Discernment of Truth

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.

Continue reading

Defining Transformative Evaluation

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.

Reference
Cookingham, Frank G. (2013). Evaluating transformational development outcomes. Monrovia, California USA: World Vision International.