Hello, we are Dani Rae Gorman and Angela Nancy Mendoza, former scholars of the AEA Graduate Diversity Education Internship (GEDI) program 2015-2016 cohort. We’d like to share some of our lessons learned throughout the program in engaging stakeholders from the inception and throughout the process of evaluation.
Evaluation phases change over a project’s life, and it is important to include stakeholders at each step. In many cases, stakeholders help to plan what they want, but are less involved with tasks such as helping to understand what the data mean and assisting in creating an effective way to communicate these findings. Having the right people involved from the beginning and keeping them involved throughout the evaluation are critical to the process. It increases the evaluation’s accuracy, appropriateness and utility. For example, having evaluation stakeholders involved in the interpretation of results to ensure the evaluators are getting the right message and are aware of important nuances.
Creating Value and Utility
In conducting relevant and accurate evaluations, it is important to understand the cultural context and communities in which the evaluation is to be carried out. Consideration and responsiveness to these factors help to ensure that an evaluation captures nuances and specific needs to help create an evaluation product that is accurate and useful to stakeholders.
Identifying and Engaging a Diversity of Stakeholders
Engaging stakeholders requires the identification of those whom the evaluation will impact. This includes program staff, managers, project leaders, clients, community members, and other stakeholders who may be affected by the evaluation findings. Engaging a diversity of stakeholders aides in creating an understanding of the identity being evaluated, its members and its culture. This in turn helps to ensure that informative questions are asked in the right way and that the outcomes are meaningful and useful to stakeholders.
Be patient and flexible in working to engage stakeholders through the evaluation process. It can be a challenge to facilitate engagement throughout the stages of an evaluation and individuals may have different experiences, perspectives, and responsibilities, but consistent engagement can create added value and utility of evaluation findings.
- Better Evaluation
- Bryson, J.M., Patton, M.Q., & Bowman, R.A. (2011). Working with evaluation stakeholders: A rational, step-wise approach and toolkit. Evaluation and Program Planning, 34, 1-12.
- CDC Evaluation Guide Step 1
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s GEDI Program and its interns. For more information on GEDI, see their webpage here: http://www.eval.org/GEDI 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.