Bloggers Series: David Fetterman on the Empowerment Evaluation Blog

Hi. I am David Fetterman, president and CEO of Fetterman & Associates, an international evaluation consulting firm. I have been at Stanford University for 25 years, serving on the faculty and in administration. Concurrently, I am a professor of education at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and co-director of the Arkansas Evaluation Center. I am a past-president of the American Evaluation Association and serve as co-chair of the Collaborative, Participatory, and Empowerment Evaluation TIG (also accessible here) with Liliana Rodriguez-Campos.

I started on the Internet around 1982 with Bitnet, moved to WWW, and here I am today with you. I blog in order to give voice to empowerment evaluators around the world and record the development of my projects. (The latter is particularly helpful at the end of the year when you are trying to construct the annual report.)

Rad Resource – Empowerment Evaluation Blog. The empowerment evaluation blog describes current projects and announces important empowerment evaluation articles, books, and webinars.

Hot tips – favorite posts: Posts include project descriptions, software, and free manuals used to conduct an empowerment evaluation. My favorite posts are:

  • 10/20/2010 – Canadian Empowerment Evaluation: Malton Community Project. Their work, under the supervision of Dr. Paul Favaro, has been transformative, contributing to collective learning, democratic participation, and action.
  • 9/10/2009 – Empowerment Evaluation Debate. This is a debate between Michael Scriven, Michael Patton, and me. It provides conceptual and methodological clarity about empowerment evaluations.

Lessons Learned: I maintain many projects blogs, such as our tobacco prevention in communities of color blog, used to tell the community’s evaluation story. In addition to my professional blogs, I maintain a family blog. The tone and focus of a blog depends on its purpose.

I have learned many things about blogging.

First, you are responsible for keeping it alive, inviting colleagues, and providing useful information to keep people coming back. You need to continually breath life into them.

Second, you have to monitor posts to minimize the clutter of irrelevant, irreverent, and irritating advertisers. Blogs open to the public invite all sorts of noise. Blogs by invitation restrict posting to a designated group.

Third, you build a world-wide network of colleagues in an amazingly short period of time, often connecting folks working in the same area but living thousands of miles away from each other. Ironically, blogs also connect colleagues living in the same town (but thousands of miles away from me).

This winter, we’re running a series highlighting evaluators who blog. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

4 thoughts on “Bloggers Series: David Fetterman on the Empowerment Evaluation Blog”

  1. Great post Dr. Fetterman! I’m working on a blog of mine for my website, but not ready to launch. I think it’s a great way for people to get to know you. I’ve spent some time thinking about the focus and I want it to be about how public health is working for the common good and what that means in people’s everyday lives. One of the things that concerns me about starting a blog is that you, as you said, have to breathe life into it. That is time consuming, but I’m sure as helpful for the blogger as the person who reads the blogs. It, in a way, helps you to capture your work and the passion that we all have about our work. Thanks for the encouragement.

    1. Hi Bev

      Yes – it does take some time: “One of the things that concerns me about starting a blog is that you, as you said, have to breathe life into it.”

      However, the more you fill it with other peoples examples and pictures the easier it is. That way you can combine it with your own commentary and other’s accomplishments – making it more doable and rewarding (helping get the word out about what others are doing is part of what its all about).

      You take care and thanks for posting about your plans to blog about how public health is working for the common good. It is needed.

      – David

  2. This is an inspiration to bloggers and “would-be bloggers.” Very well written and the benefits of blogging are made clear. Especially the fact that it becomes like a log of events that I can reference to make it easier to write my reports.

    I really see the power of using a blog for empowerment evaluation in that it allows one to teach, network, and build interest in a project. This transfers to doing many other things while utilizing a blog as a mechanism to communicate it to the world at large.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Linda

      Glad you found the posting useful.

      I find it particularly useful just before a report is due. I can go back and review the summary postings (and pictures) and remember what to include in my interim and final reports. It certainly makes the job a lot easier than recreating the events and milestones from scratch.

      Take care and many thanks for commenting on blogging about empowerment evaluation.


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