PD Presenters Week: Mary Crave, Kerry Zaleski and Tererai Trent on Do your participatory methods contribute to an equitable future?

Greetings 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 participatory methods for engaging vulnerable and historically under-represented persons in monitoring and evaluation. We’ve taught hands-on professional development workshops at AEA conferences, eStudies, and Coffee Breaks. “Visionary Evaluation for a Sustainable, Equitable Future” is not only the theme for Evaluation 2014, it is a succinct description of why we believe so strongly in what we teach. Lessons Learned: We’ve noticed during our trainings around the world that there is a continuum or range of what an evaluator might consider to be “participatory”.  Being aware of our own position and philosophy of participatory methods is especially critical when working with persons who traditionally may have been excluded from participation due to income, location, gender, ethnicity or disability. Trent suggests these lenses or levels from low to high: Spectator Participation > Tokenism Participation > Incentive Participation > Functional Participation > Ownership Participation. The more ownership or the higher the level of participation, the more impact a program will have on social justice issues and sustainable, equitable futures for people. Those who want their methods lens to focus on “ownership participation” sometimes have trouble reaching that aim because they have a small tool box or get stuck using the wrong tool in a particular time in the program cycle. Rubrics for success often leave out the voice of the vulnerable, though those voices can also be included using participatory tools. Hot Tips:

  • There are M & E tools especially suited for working with vulnerable persons that allow all voices to be heard, that do not depend on literacy skills, that consider cultural practices and power relationships in decision making and discussion, and that engage program beneficiaries in determining rubrics for success. These tools can be used in the planning, monitoring, data collection, analysis, and reporting stages of the program cycle.
  • You can expand your tool box of methods, and widen your lens on participatory methods at our 2-day workshop at AEA 2104, Reality Counts (Workshop #6) We’ll be joined by Abdul Thoronka, an international community health specialist and manager of a community organization that works with persons with disabilities.

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). Want to learn more? Register for Reality Counts: Participatory methods for engaging marginalized and under-represented persons in M&E at Evaluation 2014. This week, we’re featuring posts by people who will be presenting Professional Development workshops at Evaluation 2014 in Denver, CO. Click here for a complete listing of Professional Development workshops offered at Evaluation 2014. 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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