My name is Josey Landrieu, Assistant Professor in Program Evaluation at the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development. One of the things I enjoy the most about my work is the opportunity to collaborate with external partners in research and evaluation projects.
Liliana Rodriguez-Campos (2005) defines collaborative evaluation as “an evaluation in which there is a significant degree of collaboration between evaluators and stakeholders in the evaluation process” (p. 1). She points out that the collaboration must be mutually beneficial for all those involved in order to achieve a shared vision.
How can we achieve a true collaborative evaluation with external partners? Dr. Rodriguez-Campos lays out a useful and practical six-step Model for Collaborative Evaluation:
1) Identify the situation: The situation will determine your approach to the work; it sets the foundation for everything that follows in collaborative evaluation.
2) Clarify the expectations: Expectations are the assumptions, beliefs, or ideas about the evaluation and by clarifying them you ensure that the work maintains its appropriate direction.
3) Establish a shared commitment: Everyone must feel involved to gain a sense of ownership and commitment to the work.
4) Ensure open communication: Open and good communication is essential to building trust among the collaborators.
5) Encourage best practices: These might include encouraging appreciation for differences (diversity, motivation, perception, personality, and values).
6) Follow specific guidelines: Guidelines are the principles that direct the design, use, and assessment of the collaborative evaluation. An example of these are the AEA Guiding Principles for Evaluators.
Hot tips for collaborations:
Hot Tip: Patience is key: It takes time for relationships to develop and trust to be established between community organizations and University teams. Don’t rush things.
Hot Tip: Preparation is essential: Do your homework and learn about issues and topics that the organization might be interested when partnering with you and your evaluation colleagues. This can help from the start; it sends a signal that you are willing to learn about their situation and issues they might want to work on.
Hot Tip: Getting out of our comfort zone is necessary: Successful and sustainable collaborative work with community partners requires that we often step out of our comfort zone. We might need to get creative in our strategies to design and implement an evaluation/research project. How do we compromise between our world as evaluators and what truly works in the community?
- Liliana’s aea365 tip on MCE.
- AEA TIG for Collaborative, Participatory, and Empowerment Evaluation.
- Lewkowitz, J. (1999). The limits of collaborative evaluation. TESOL Quarterly, 33, 681-700.
- Rodriguez-Campos, L. (2005). Collaborative Evaluations: A step-by-step Model for the Evaluator. Lumina Press: Tamarac Florida.
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.