Transformative Evaluation: Using Mixed Methods to Address Inequity and Adversity



Transformative Evaluation, March 2023

Instructor: Donna Mertens


Transformative evaluation provides a lens for evaluators who work in contexts of inequality and adversity with a goal of social transformation. It supplies an umbrella that encompasses evaluations designed to support the transformation of marginalized communities, such as people living in poverty, women, people with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, indigenous communities, homeless people, sexual minorities, and others. It seeks to answer the question: How should we design our evaluations if we are to contribute to a more socially, economically, and environmentally just society?

This course is delivered in two virtual, instructor-led modules. Read about each of the modules below. Classes will take place online via Zoom. Certificates of completion will be provided at the end of the course to all participants who have successfully completed the modules.

Module 1: Overview of Transformative Evaluation
March 14, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. EDT

The world is facing a number of wicked problems for which there are no agreed upon solutions—climate change, poverty, conflict and violence, and lack of access to healthcare, education, housing, and employment. These problems, and appropriate evaluation strategies to address them, are relevant in domestic and international contexts. For example, the worldwide community has recognized the need to set goals that explicitly address these problems in the form of Sustainable Development Goals. Evaluators are called upon to design evaluations that support the type of transformative change needed to meet these goals. The ethical assumptions that underlie an evaluator’s responsibilities operating to support transformative change will be examined in the first module, along with methodological implications that align with these assumptions. Building relationships, being culturally responsive, and forming coalitions to enhance ownership and utilization will be part of this module. Participants will have the opportunity to apply the concepts to a case study.  

Module 2: Methodologies from a Transformative Lens
March 16, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. EDT

The transformative lens for evaluation is methodologically eclectic. It includes phases of forming relationships, conducting contextual analysis, and process and impact evaluations. Many approaches to evaluation can be used under this umbrella, such as Appreciative Inquiry, community-based and participatory approaches, and randomized controlled trials. However, the methods are chosen to be consciously responsive to the culture and context of the evaluation, and to serve the transformative goals of the project. In this module, the use of mixed methods that apply a transformative lens and a variety of methodological approaches will be examined. Participants will have the opportunity to apply this approach to a case study.

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