Participatory Evaluation Essentials

By J. Bradley Cousins

Cousins, B. (2013). Participatory evaluation essentials. CRECS Ten Minute Window, 1(1).

The author discusses some basic principles of participatory evaluation and introduces a conceptual framework useful for differentiating between practical and transformative approaches and among other forms of collaborative inquiry in evaluation. Participatory evaluation is cast as flexible and fluid, an evaluation approach that will be heavily influenced by context. Consideration is given to future directions.

See the video on CRECS Youtube Channel.

Keywords: participation, collaboration, evaluation, stakeholders

About the author

Dr. J. Bradley Cousins is Professor of Evaluation at the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa.  Cousins’ main interests in program evaluation include participatory and collaborative approaches, use, and capacity building. He received his Ph.D. in educational measurement and evaluation from the University of Toronto in 1988. Throughout his career he has received several awards for his work in evaluation including the ‘Contribution to Evaluation in Canada’ award (CES, 1999), the Paul F. Lazarsfeld award for theory in evaluation (AEA, 2008) and the AERA Research on Evaluation ‘Distinguished Scholar Award’ (2011). He has published many articles and books on evaluation and was Editor of the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation from 2002 to 2010.

Further Reading

Cousins, J. B., & Chouinard, J. A. (2012). Participatory evaluation up close: A review and integration of the research base. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Press.

Cousins, J. B., Whitmore, E., & Shulha, L. M. (2013). Arguments for a common set of principles for collaborative inquiry in evaluation. American Journal of Evaluation, 34(1), 7-22.

Shulha, L. (2010, November). Essential aspects of participatory evaluation. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Evaluation Association, San Antonio.

Whitmore, E. (Ed.), (1998). Understanding and practicing participatory evaluation. New Directions in Evaluation, No. 80. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

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