Closing the series on participation in evaluation

Leslie Groves and Irene Guijt's picture 10th August 2015 by Leslie Groves and Irene Guijt

On Wednesday, July 29, Leslie Groves and I gave a live Q and A that focused on questions from blog readers. We received so many interesting questions and clearly had too little time for in-depth conversation. Lesson learned for next time – fewer questions to allow time for a more detailed exploration of each.

The questions we received highlight people’s concerns with respect to making evaluation processes more participatory. We had eight different kinds of questions:

  • Meaning and defining - Where should we draw the line and avoid using the word ‘participation’, in contrast with a comprehensive participatory evaluation? See our blog 1 for more insights.
  • Power and politics – How to convince commissioners and how to deal with local elites? See blog 2 and blog 4 on this.
  • Framings and process – Can participation in evaluation be easily combined with framings, such as realist evaluation or gender-responsive approaches? See the recording of the Q&A below.
  • Impact evaluation – Where are the good examples? Stay tuned for emerging work on PIALA (participatory impact assessment and learning) and see this UNICEF paper
  • Private sector – Is the private sector focus on client feedback really exemplary? See our blog 2 on this and the recording
  • Ethics and confidentiality  - Does participatory work ask for specific attention to these? Yes – see the recording.
  • Participatory evaluation  = better? Only when the conditions are right and it is appropriate. See blogs 1, 2, 3 and 4.
  • Making participation meaningful – Managing trade-offs of values, time and resources. See all our blogs, particularly blog 4.

Q&A recording

The specific questions – and our thoughts on these can be found on the recording of the webinar.

To round off this series, we have two questions of our own. We would love to receive your thoughts and comments on these.

  1. Does jargon matter? Or are participation (90s), voice (00s) and feedback (10s) simply decade-relevant versions of the same intention?
  2. Is the extent to which our evaluations are participatory ultimately only about our willingness and ability to share power over evaluation decisions?

Please use the comments box below. We will be checking in with these comments over the next weeks.

A special thanks to this page's contributors
Learning by Design.
Independent consultant.
Shoreham by Sea, United Kingdom.