Participatory Program Evaluation Manual: Involving Program Stakeholders in the Evaluation Process

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Judi Aubel

This 75-page manual is written for larger organizations that involve multiple people in the evaluation process. Relatively dense and academic, it provides users with practical guidelines for conducting a participatory evaluation that, as presented, is particularly relevant to process evaluations. The methodology focuses on the analysis of program activities and strategies, which have been implemented, and on the development of "lessons learned" for the future, which may be imposed upon many organizations doing civic engagement. The first 15 pages set up basic principles of participatory evaluation and how the manual differs from “blueprint” and traditional approaches. A summary on page 3 lists the manual's contents and how to use them. The evaluation process is broken down into 7 key phases: 1) Preplanning meetings; 2) Evaluation Planning Workshop; 3) Fieldwork: preparation, data collection and analysis; 4) Workshop to formulate lessons learned; 5) Summarize evaluation results; 6) Development of an action plan; 7) Finalization and dissemination of the evaluation report. The manual provides a glossary of terms, useful charts, blueprints and tools to help users plan and implement their evaluation program. The planning phases provide useful detail, but the manual moves straight from evaluation questions to data with no discussion of indicators. It gives basic suggestions on instruments such as a sample interview guide and observation guide. This could be a nice "basic training" guide in participatory evaluation for staff of large organizations, who think more by department and job description than many smaller arts organizations do.

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