Tag Archives: holism

Mindful Evaluation

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

Mindfulness

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

Related Posts

http://evalfrank.com/2014/11/principles-for-holistically-planning-an-evaluation/

http://evalfrank.com/2014/11/improving-your-evaluation-work-through-reflective-practice/

Fear Not When The Lord Is Your Helper

Hebrews 13:5-6; Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon commentary

Hebrews 13:5. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

 CHS… You have a grand reserve, therefore. What you have in possession is only a little spending money to use on the road to heaven, but “he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” You may confidently fall back upon the providence of God in all times of straitness and need [dire straits = a very bad situation that is difficult to fix].

 Hebrews 13:6. So that we may boldly [confidently] say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

FGC… Confidence emerges from beliefs held strongly. The strong belief here is that taking risks to do the will of the Lord may lead to consequences that will be difficult to endure. The Lord will be with me, not to lessen the severity of the situation, but to assure me that doing the right thing matters. Following the will of God for my life is more important than anything else.

 If I believe through prayerful discernment that the will of God for me is to promote transformative evaluation in agencies that partner with marginalized groups to transform lives and society in the biblical sense; then I can count on the Holy Spirit to sustain me regardless of what others say about my work. I can learn from what they say. I can continue lovingly with my witness with bold humility, with or without their support, strongly believing that God will use my work for future good. Glory be to God!

Demonstrating Accountability for TD Programs

Different modes of inquiry are needed for demonstrating accountability for Transformational Development programs. In addition to program implementation monitoring. program results evaluation, and impact evaluation there are disciplined reflection, worldview discernment and internal audit. The attached file describes three principles for internal and external accountability and how these modes of inquiry can be applied to answer six accountability questions.  Click 88 MnE for accountability.

Note added September 2017: Programs  that are funded by a grant may be required by the funding agency to host a monitoring evaluation. This is an inquiry exercise conducted by an external evaluator or auditor to determine if the program is in compliance with the conditions agreed by the program agency by accepting the grant and using resources provided by the grant. This way of demonstrating external accountability is not discussed further in this post.

Reflections on holistic planning and doing

Refection on Proverbs 16:1-9 can prepare you to engage in holistic planning.

Verse 9: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” (NIV)

I plan my course in my heart; I envision goal and milestones. But the Lord determines the steps to take that will move toward each milestone as seen by the Lord.

I have plans in my heart; I can envision what I desire to do with my life. But I cannot make my case for them; I must depend on the Lord to do that. Moreover, I cannot do what is in my heart without direction from the Lord; this is a consequence of original sin. I try to plan as a servant of God. But I cannot know all of the consequences of what I think and do. God loves me; God desires that I choose to follow the way to righteousness. Only God knows how my plans will affect plans of others. (Verse 1)

The Lord detests the pride I have about my plans and my doing; I will be punished for it in the sense that I will miss opportunities to engage fully in God’s redeeming work. (Verse 5) The Lord works out everything as he desires it. He even uses the plans and deeds of the wicked for godly ends. (Verse 4) Sin is atoned for through love and forgiveness; evil is avoided through fear of the Lord. (Verse 6) It is better to gain little with righteousness than much with injustice. (Verse 8) When we please the Lord, opportunities open up for God to transform the lives of even wicked ones or those who oppose achieving the purpose of righteous planning. (Verse 7)

Therefore in prayer I submit my plans to God for judgment, sure that there are aspects that will be found wanting. I stand ready to revise, even abandon, plans as directed by the Holy Spirit. I commit to implementation and accept responsibility for repenting as events reveal God’s judgment on my plans. (Verse 2)

LORD, I commit to you the implementation of my plan for this project. As I take the steps that make sense to me I will pay close attention to what happens, trusting that you are guiding the effects of my doing. I will reconsider my vision as you reveal your will, and praise you all the day long. (Verse 3)

Monitoring Evangelistic Intent

The primary aim of evangelistic intent in community development is to facilitate development thinking and activities that provoke the question to which the gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer. The attached file describes categories of standards and indicators for evangelistic intent.  I welcome questions, suggestions and challenges.

Clink link Monitoring Evangelistic Intent

For background information on my approach to project monitoring,

Click link