FIE TIG Week: Feminist Evaluation has a Friend in Principles-Focused Evaluation by Donna Podems and Michael Patton

Hello. Michael Patton and I, Donna Podems, wanted to share a new idea that was inspired by the session that Michael, Svetlana Negroustoueva, and I, held at the 2017 American Evaluation Association Conference.

Recently, Michael pioneered the concept of Principles Focused Evaluation (PFE). As feminist evaluators, we wondered how, and if, we could apply a Principles Focused Evaluation to Feminist Evaluation. Were they compatible? Turns out, yes, they can be friends!

The FE and PFE Collaboration

PFE, which is based on complexity theory and systems thinking, is premised on the idea that principles can, and should, be evaluated. These principles need to be clearly articulated, evaluable, and evaluated, to understand how what principles led to what results. In other words, how does a principle guide action, and what happens because of that action.

PFE is particularly suitable for evaluating social movements and dynamic situations; much of what FE is used to evaluate. So, how about making the six feminist tenets principles and in doing so, making them evaluable?

We are using the blog to share, and hopefully get feedback on, how Michael has formulated the six tenets into the six principles, and in doing so, making them evaluable. Ready? Here they are!

  • Focus on the gender inequities that lead to social injustice.
  • Identify and understand how gender inequalities are systematic and structural.
  • Acknowledge and take into account evaluation as a political activity.
  • Analyze and take into account how knowledge is a powerful resource, either implicit or explicit.
  • Make knowledge a resource of and for the people who create, hold, and share it.
  • Be cognizant of multiple ways of knowing and how some are privileged over others.

Rad Resources:

Hot Tip:  Evaluate your use of FE principles asking the three basic P-FE reflective questions:

  1. To what extent and in what ways are the principles meaningful to you and those you work with?
  2. To what extent do you adhere to the FE principles in your work?
  3. What results do you get from following the FE principles?

Hot Tip: Add your own principles to the set proposed here. Our list of FE principles is suggestive not definitive or exhaustive, meant to be generative and stimulate dialogue.

Cool Trick: Test your principles against the GUIDE framework for principles to assess the extent to which they provide guidance (G), are useful (U), inspiring (I), developmental and adaptable to different contexts (D), and evaluable (E).   

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Feminist Issues in Evaluation (FIE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the FIE Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our FIE 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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