Evaluation is an essential element of professional practice. However, there is little in the literature that is designed to help students involve and support young people in evaluating the impact of youth work activities. This comprehensive book explores current thinking about evaluation in the context of youth work and community work and offers both theoretical understanding and practical guidance for students, practitioners, organisational leaders and commissioners.
Part 1 provides underpinning knowledge of the origins, purpose and functions of evaluation. It charts the developments in evaluation thinking over the past 50 years, and includes an exploration of ‘theory of change’. Concepts such as impact, impact measurement and shared measurement are critically examined to illustrate the political nature of evaluation. Findings from empirical research are used to illuminate the challenges of applying a quasi-experimental paradigm of evaluation of youth and community work. Part 2 introduces the reader to participatory evaluation and presents an overview of the histories, rationale and underpinning principles. Empowerment evaluation, collaborative evaluation and democratic evaluation are examined in detail, including practice examples. Transformative Evaluation, an approach specifically designed for youth and community work, is presented. Part 3 focuses on the ‘doing’ of participatory evaluation and offers guidance to those new to participatory evaluation in youth and community work and a helpful check for those already engaging. It provides valuable information on planning, methods, data and data analysis and processes for sharing knowledge.
This essential text will enable the reader to reconstruct evaluation as a tool for learning as well as a tool for judging value. It provides a comprehensive reference, drawing on a wide range of literature and practice examples to support those involved in youth and community work to develop and implement participatory approaches to evaluating and communicating the meaning and value of youth and community work to a wider audience.
Table of Contents
What is youth work?
What are youth work outcomes?
Overview of book
PART I. Evaluation: Nature, Politics and Tensions
Chapter 1: What is Evaluation?
What is evaluation for?
Different paradigmatic approaches
The evolving nature of evaluation
Introducing ‘Theory of Change’
The problem with evaluation
Chapter 2: The Politics of Evaluation
The political context
What counts as ‘evidence’?
Chapter 3: Practitioners’ Tensions and Dilemmas
Generating data replaces ‘real’ work
Accounting systems are reductionist
Tensions between targets and authenticity
Tensions between targets and values
PART II. Participatory Evaluation
Chapter 4: What is Participatory Evaluation?
Defining participatory evaluation
Underpinning philosophy and values
Developments in participatory evaluation
Participation and empowerment
Models of participation
Making the case for participatory evaluation in youth and community work
Chapter 5: Participatory Evaluation Approaches
Similarities and distinguishing features
Empowerment evaluation in practice
Collaborative evaluation in practice
Democratic evaluation in practice
The challenges associated with stakeholder involvement
Chapter 6: Transformative Evaluation
Transformative evaluation in practice
The four stages of Transformative Evaluation
Challenges associated with transformative evaluation
Tried and tested
Chapter 7: Learning in Participatory Evaluation
Learning and accountability: A dichotomy?
Learning in evaluation
Five types of ‘process use’
Learning in the moment
Learning through collective reflection
PART III. Participatory Evaluation in Practice
Chapter 8: Preparing for Evaluation
Clarifying and articulating purpose
Developing a theory of change
Chapter 9: Data in Participatory Evaluation
Who ‘generates’ data?
What data are needed?
Quantitative and qualitative data
Issues of trustworthiness in participatory evaluation
Factors influencing decisions about data generation methods
Chapter 10: Methods for Generating Data
Chapter 11: Analysing Data
Approaches to data analysis
Analysing quantitative data
Analysing qualitative data
Coding data and generating themes
Content analysis in Transformative Evaluation
Involving stakeholders in data analysis
Chapter 12: Sharing Knowledge
Voice, audience and message
Writing an evaluation report
Other forms of sharing knowledge
Meta-evaluation: Sharing learning about evaluation
Susan Cooper was a youth worker and a youth work manager for thirty years before joining Plymouth Marjons University, UK, as a senior lecturer and Programme Leader for undergraduate and postgraduate Youth and Community Work courses. She developed her expertise in participatory evaluation during her doctoral studies and has supported a range of youth work organisations in the UK and across Europe to develop their use of participatory evaluation.
'Bringing her extensive practice, research and teaching experience to the task, Susan Cooper provides an excellent and welcome treatise on participatory evaluation, confidently putting young people at the centre of the process. Offering a step by step method, this timely book will enable practitioners, not only in youth work but in the human services more widely, to incorporate evaluation as a core aspect of empowering practice.' - Dave Ward, Professor of Social and Community Studies, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
'Participation seems to be a taming force in evaluation, making it fit the youth work context. Using a participatory approach enables us to recognizing the value of different opinions and it gives people their say. But as Sue Cooper reminds us, participation is not just about evidence and youth work, but also one way of keeping democracy alive in modern society. Every politician should read this book.' - Anu Gretschel, Senior Researcher Ph.D., Finnish Youth Research Network, Finland