Participatory Evaluation in Education: Studies in Evaluation Use and Organizational Learning

By J. Bradley Cousins; Lorna M. Earl | Go to book overview

Chapter 9

Using Participatory Evaluation in an International Context

Donna M. Mertens, Terry R. Berkeley and Susan D. Lopez


Introduction

Cousins and Earl (1992) proposed a participatory model of program evaluation that they defined as 'applied social research that involves a partnership between trained evaluation personnel and practice-based decision-makers, organization members with program responsibility, or people with a vital interest in the program' (pp. 399-400). They identified three characteristics of participatory evaluation: (a) involvement of a relatively small number of stakeholders (primary users); (b) involvement of the primary users in problem formulation, instrument design or selection, data collection, analysis, interpretation, recommendations, and reporting; and (c) an interactive and coordinating role for the evaluator, with a broad understanding of technical support, training, and quality control, while recognizing that conducting the evaluation is a joint responsibility of some of the primary users. Cousins and Earl also noted that local context provides an important basis in determining the exact form of the participatory evaluation.

Participatory evaluation approaches can be used to assess projects and to empower people. Brunner and Guzman (1989), for example, argued that participatory evaluation can be useful in international contexts because of the need to identify factors that contribute to and hinder the successful implementation of a project; and to relate those factors to the specific place in which the project is located. To identify these factors, they posited that it is necessary to design and to implement the evaluation with members of the relevant society (or organization), while professional evaluators act as facilitators of the evaluation process, and, importantly, we contend, as educators about program evaluation.

In this chapter, we discuss the application of a participatory model to the evaluation of a special education training project in Egypt, with a special emphasis on those factors that facilitated and inhibited the empowerment of primary users in an international context. The struggle to involve primary users in a meaningful way is applicable

Authors' Note: This work was sponsored, in part, through an agreement among the United States Agency for International Development, the Ministry of Education of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and Gallaudet University. The opinions expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect the position, policy, or endorsement of the funding agency, the United States Agency for International Development (Co-operative Agreement No. 263-0139-A-00-1206-00), the Ministry of Education of the Arab Republic of Egypt, or Gallaudet University.

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