Mary Crave, Kerry Zaleski and Tererai Trent on Participatory Methods for Engaging Vulnerable and Under-Represented Persons in M&E

Hello from Mary Crave and Kerry Zaleski, of the University of Wisconsin – Extension and Tererai Trent of Tinogona Foundation and Drexel University.  For the past few years we’ve teamed up to teach hands-on professional development workshops at AEA conferences on participatory methods for engaging vulnerable and historically under-represented persons in monitoring and evaluation. Our workshops are based on:

  • More than 65 years of collective community-based experience in the US and more than 55 countries
  • Our philosophy that special efforts should be made to engage people who have often been left out of the community decision-making process (including program assessment and evaluation)
  • The thoughtful work of such theorists and practitioners as Robert Chambers, a pioneer in Participatory Rural Appraisal.

Lessons Learned: While many evaluators espouse the benefits of participatory methods, engaging under-represented persons often calls for particular tools, methods and approaches. Here’s the difference:

  1. Vulnerability: Poverty, cultural traditions, natural disasters, illness and disease, disabilities, human rights abuses, a lack of access to resources or services, and other factors can make people vulnerable in some contexts. This can lead to marginalization or oppression by those with power, and critical voices are left out of the evaluation process.
  2. Methods and tools have many benefits: They can be used throughout the program cycle; are adaptable to fit any context; promote inclusion, diversity and equality; spark collective action; and, support community ownership of results – among others.
  3. 3.     Evaluators are really facilitators and participants become the evaluators of their own realities.

Hot Tip:  Join us to learn more about the foundations of and some specific “how-to” methods on this topic at an upcoming AEA eStudy, February 5 and February 12, 1-2:30 PM EST. Click here to register.

We’ll talk about the foundations of participatory methods and walk through several tools such as community mapping, daily calendars, pair-wise ranking, and pocket-chart voting.

Rad Resources: Robert Chambers 2002 book: Participatory Workshops: A Sourcebook of 21 Sets of Ideas and Activities.

Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the UN: (click on publications, type in PLA in search menu)

AEA Coffee Break Webinar 166: Pocket-Chart Voting-Engaging vulnerable voices in program evaluation with Kerry Zaleski, December 12, 2013 (recording available free to AEA members).

June Gothberg on Involving Vulnerable Populations in Evaluation and Research, August 23, 2013

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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