Action Evaluation

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This 5-page article on Action Evaluation from the Beyond Intractability website provides a knowledge base and tools regarding social conflict resolution and community reconciliation. This article assists participants, funders, and facilitators in reaching consensus about what they seek to accomplish (people's goals), why (their values and beliefs), and how (suggested account strategies). The article addresses the process in three stages: establishing the baseline, formative monitoring, and summative evaluation. Part of a series of linked "Knowledge-based Essays," this piece is one of many on the Beyond Intractability site about conflict resolution, including negotiation and mediation. It is more of a series of essays that guide thinking than actual methods. It is not clear where the computer-based component of it resides, though the project itself is based at the University of Colorado. Action Evaluation (AE) is an innovative method that uses social and computer technology to define, promote, and assess success in complex social interventions. Founders of this form of evaluation asked with increasing urgency, "Does conflict resolution really work? How can we know? What does 'work' mean, who defines it, and how?" And most important, "How can our search for answers about success increase our chances of achieving it?” Traditional forms of evaluation stand apart from the projects that they evaluate and illuminate gaps between initial program goals and actual outcomes. Action Evaluation joins a project by helping participants define and then formatively redefine success, to forge effective action and make success a self-fulfilling prophecy. Too often, the criteria of success are imposed upon a conflict-resolution initiative from the outside, without seeking meaningful and sustained input of the various groups involved in the conflict or intervention. Action Evaluation gathers and organizes input and ownership by those involved, by assisting them to create their own criteria for success. Thus, by defining and seeking success in a continuous, integrative way, AE is both an evaluation and an intervention tool. [Adapted from the Beyond Intractability website.] Part of the site deals with the controversial idea of "intractable conflicts," or those that elude resolution, such as abortion and the Israeli-Palestine problem, etc.

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