Evaluation Competencies in the Ages of Discontinuity




Five competencies:

  1. Engage the broader architecture of evaluating practices
    1. Need to consider alliances with other applied researchers that are engaged in activities of valuing, judging and recommending. 
    1. Develop capacities to work in transdisciplinary/interdisciplinary teams.  Working with a variety of different kinds of knowledge producers, and blurring boundaries between practices to engage integrative knowledge to address complex problems.  
  • Do collaborative knowledge work
    • Participatory approaches. Experiential and the relational understanding of practitioners who are engaged with situations that they themselves are a part of.
    • Learning to work in uncertain futures, deal with contingent scenarios, and address issues of the wellbeing of underprivileged people marked by social and political change.  
    • Expanded notions of collaborative knowledge work include things like: collective social learning, co-production, collaborative adaptive management, and triple loop learning.
  • Expand the repertoire of questions evaluators ask
    • Focus tends to be on questions of what works, effectiveness, efficiency and impact, and to some extent sustainability. 
    • Need to ask questions like: What assumptions underlie our understandings of the problem we are addressing and our efforts to address it?  Who gains and who loses from what we plan to do or have done?  What should we do to address potential exclusion and marginalization of peoples in our activities?
  • Develop epistemic fluency
    • We work on real world problems and to do so we require different combinations of specialized and context dependent knowledge – different ways of knowing. 
  • Develop ethical and political fluency
    • Developing ethical fluency involves developing moral expertise and capacity for normative analysis.  It is the competency to state and clarify moral questions, and provide justified answers to those questions.   
    • Moral expertise involves conceptualizing and elaborating on the meaning of norms, values and ends that are at stake in a particular intervention.
    • Developing political fluency means that evaluators focus on the political dimensions of acting and learning, as well as learning to deal with policy discord and moral disharmony.

Current training in evaluation largely assumes that evaluators are dealing with values in a world of facts.  We need far more attention to value dimension of things than the factual dimension.