Tools for evaluators conducting participatory and empowerment evaluations by Nicole Turcheti

Hi, I’m Nicole Turcheti and I’m a social research scientist at Public Health – Seattle King County. I am the lead evaluator for the Trauma-Informed and Restorative Practices (TIRP), one of county’s strategies within the Best Starts for Kids initiative. Working with community, it became clear that not fully understanding what evaluation is and what it entails is one of the main barriers for folks to give inputs to the evaluation. In response to that, I developed some tools to better communicate what the steps of the evaluation are and how the data the community provides us will be used to inform the evaluation.

Evaluation as telling the community's story steps

Having community residents participate is essential to the TIRP evaluation, which is intended to build upon community knowledge to shed light on the programs’ implementation, outcomes and opportunities for improvement. Hopefully these resources can support you in providing the pathway for communities to bring their voices to your evaluation!

Rad Resource: Nicole Turcheti’s Rad Resource for Participatory Evaluation – You can download this resource to see all of the details and visuals.

Hot Tips:

  1. Use metaphor to explain evaluation

I work with communities that have been historically marginalized and, while discussing the purpose of the evaluation, they expressed that “we want to tell our story!” This inspired me to describe the evaluation to them through the metaphor of a story. I explained what the different steps of evaluation are by conveying them as the different steps it would take to write and tell a story with data. Slide 1 shows these different steps. I used them also when building the timelines (slide 4).

  • Highlight the community’s contribution to evaluation

Another thing that I learned in the process of a participatory evaluation is that sometimes these partners did not even realize that they were contributing to the evaluation. I wanted to make that clear to folks and show how their ideas were contributing to our efforts to “tell their story”. For that, I listed all the different community events that took place in each of the evaluation phases. Community meetings, advisory board meetings, calls, online surveys – every opportunity to collaborate was listed. This helped folks feel included and have more ownership over the work.

  • Use a visual that explains coding to non-technical audiences

I wanted to share with the community organizations how the narrative reports they submitted were going to be used to help us answer the evaluation questions. Slide 3 shows the visual I created to explain how coding works, and how looking at themes across different reports would help us achieve the evaluation goals. This has also reinforced folks’ understanding of why putting an effort to answer the report questions accurately and in detail was so important.

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.

2 thoughts on “Tools for evaluators conducting participatory and empowerment evaluations by Nicole Turcheti”

  1. Kevin Nearing

    Hi Nicole,
    I am a high school teacher from Ottawa, Canada currently working on a master’s degree in education through Queens University in Kingston Ontario, Canada. In my research for my Program Inquiry and Evaluation course I came across your post.
    What drew me to your post was Trauma Informed and Restorative Practice (TIRP). I am a restorative practitioner and trainer who has worked in the Arctic with Inuit students for a number of years. This was a proving ground for me in the use of the restorative process in trauma informed education. Intentional listening to stories became a salient component of my ability to connect with the students and community members. Storytelling is how indigenous peoples pass on knowledge and cultural teachings to their children. To witness the respect and attention that elders received from the children as they told their stories was something to behold.
    Your resource, Evaluation as telling the community’s story, stood out as an important tool in the collaborative evaluation process. What better way to break down barriers and have a community buy into the process than to have their voice shown to be valued.
    This will be a resource I will carry with me as I journey through my professional practice.

    Kevin Nearing

  2. Hi Nicole – thanks for the great post! I am always looking for ways to help explain the evaluation process to different community groups. You mentioned a visual that helps explain coding on slide 3 – was that the visual that was included in the blog? If not – could you send it my way?
    Thanks in advance from your fellow Seattlite — Erin Hertel

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