CP TIG Week: Tara Gregory and Natalie Wilkins on An Introduction to Community Psychology Topical Interest Group’s Series on Empowerment Evaluation

Hello. We are Tara Gregory, Director of Research and Evaluation at Wichita State University’s Center for Community Support and Research, and Natalie Wilkins, Behavioral Scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We’re members of the Leadership Council for the Community Psychology TIG and are excited to introduce this week’s blogs highlighting connection among empowerment, evaluation and community psychology.

As community psychologists who are evaluators, we often think of the tenet of meeting people where they are. “Where people are,” related to evaluation may be overwhelmed, confused, and even resistant. This is not a criticism of those trying to make a difference in our communities, but more a recognition of the need for approaching evaluation from an empowerment perspective – both in helping people learn evaluation themselves and in providing results of our own evaluations in a way that helps empower people. Either way, the role of the community psychologist in evaluation is to meet people where they are and walk with them as a partner with the intention of preparing the other to go forward independently.

Lessons Learned:

  • Empowerment evaluation – Listening to key stakeholders is key. Often, people will be resistant to evaluation because they are overwhelmed by the idea of having to do something outside their area of expertise. Listening to stakeholders’ stories about how their program works, and how they know it works can often reveal strengths and evaluation capacity that people and programs never knew they had. Lots of folks have the building blocks of evaluation in place already – they’re just not calling it “evaluation!”
  • Facilitating reflection – Encouraging reflection on evaluation results and helping people come to their own conclusions is a way to create ownership and empowerment to continue good work or make changes where needed.
  • Qualitative methods – Offering an opportunity for people to share their own stories as part of an evaluation can also be empowering, particularly when they’re encouraged to focus on strengths, successes, resiliency or other positives that sometimes get lost.

Hot Tip:

  • Check out the Empowerment Evaluation TIG! They host their own blog weeks, webinars, and many other educational opportunities. Many of us community psychologists belong to this group and gain valuable knowledge and skills through membership.

Rad Resources:

These teaching materials are designed to introduce individuals to empowerment evaluation and intended to be a resource for facilitating an introductory lecture on the topic.

Dr. David Fetterman’s blog provides a range of resources on empowerment evaluation theory and practice, including links to videos, guides and relevant academic literature.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating CP TIG Week with our colleagues in the Community Psychology Topical Interest Group. The contributions all week come from CP TIG members. 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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.



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