What’s the difference between research and evaluation? While this question is continuously discussed in the evaluation field, one big difference has to do with the “value” in e-VALU-ation. Even though the American Evaluation Association’s guiding principles call for evaluators to address stakeholders’ values in their work (https://www.eval.org/p/cm/ld/fid=51), this can be challenging in practice.
So how do we as evaluators attend to values in our work? Moreover, how do we responsibly balance our own personal values with those held by funders, program staff, beneficiaries, and other stakeholders? During last year’s Values in Evaluation panel discussion at Boston College, we explored these questions through the perspectives of several Boston-based evaluators. This year, we invite you to explore how you assess and make explicit your own values and those of various stakeholders you engage in your work. The session will begin with an overview of research on and professional guidelines for addressing values in evaluation followed by facilitated small group discussions among attendees. Attendees will leave with some guidance and ideas for responsibly engaging with values in their work. During the presentation, we will break into small groups, please see the questions below that we will be discussing.
We look forward to continuing the conversation around addressing and integrating values in evaluation with the greater Boston area evaluation community.
This will be a virtual presentation. You must register prior to the event to receive the online meeting information.
Questions for small group discussions:
1. Let’s begin by asking you to introduce yourself and the evaluation (or other) work you are engaged in.
2. Given the introduction, what are some of the ways you see values influence your evaluation practice - whether your own, those held by funders, program staff, beneficiaries, or other stakeholders? And how so?
3. What are some of the biggest challenges you face and/or strategies you use with balancing stakeholder, commissioners, & evaluator values in evaluation?
4. The American Evaluation Association guidelines articulate shared values for the evaluation profession. The fifth guideline, Common Good and Equity, states that “Evaluators strive to contribute to the common good and advancement of an equitable and just society.” What does this guideline mean to you, and how, if at all, do you try to uphold it in your work?
5. When working on evaluations to assess the overall value or quality of a program, do you use explicit criteria (e.g. effectiveness, equity, sustainability) or standards (i.e. benchmarks, indicators)? If so, how?
a. Criteria = define dimensions of a ‘successful’ or ‘high quality’ intervention
b. Standards = levels of performance to indicate low to high ‘success’ or ‘ quality'
6. What are the highlights from our discussion we want to share with the larger group?