Transformative Research and Evaluation  book cover
1st Edition

Transformative Research and Evaluation

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ISBN 9781593853020
Published December 1, 2008 by Guilford Press
402 Pages

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Book Description

From distinguished scholar Donna M. Mertens, this book provides a framework for making methodological decisions and conducting research and evaluations that promote social justice. The transformative paradigm has emerged from—and guides—a broad range of social and behavioral science research projects with communities that have been pushed to the margins, such as ethnic, racial, and sexual minority group members and children and adults with disabilities. Mertens shows how to formulate research questions based on community needs, develop researcher–community partnerships grounded in trust and respect, and skillfully apply quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods data collection strategies. Practical aspects of analyzing and reporting results are addressed, and numerous sample studies are presented.

Student- and Instructors-Friendly Features Include:

*Commentary on the sample studies that explains what makes them transformative.

*Explanations of key concepts related to oppression, social justice, and the role of research and evaluation.

*Questions for Thought to stimulate critical self-reflection and discussion.

*Advance chapter organizers and chapter summaries.

Table of Contents


The Intersection of Applied Social Research and Program Evaluation


Rationale for the Transformative Paradigm

Breadth of Transformative Paradigm Applicability

1. Resilience, Resistance, and Complexities That Challenge

In This Chapter

Human Rights Agenda

The Transformative Paradigm as a Metaphysical Umbrella

Need for Transformative Research and Evaluation

Examples of Transformative Research and Evaluation

Examples of Shifting Paradigms

Need for the Transformative Paradigm and Scholarly Literature

Need for the Transformative Paradigm and Public Policy

Complexities That Challenge

Ethical Impetus

Striving for Improved Validity


2. The Transformative Paradigm: Basic Beliefs and Commensurate Theories

In This Chapter

Paradigms and Basic Belief Systems

The Transformative Paradigm and Its Basic Belief Systems

Theories Commensurate with the Transformative Paradigm

Politics and Power


3. Self, Partnerships, and Relationships

In This Chapter

Human Relations as Factors Contributing to Research Validity and Rigor

Knowing Yourself

Knowing Yourself in Relation to the Community

Cultural Competence

Strategies for Developing Relationships/Partnerships

Types of Partnerships/Relationships

Challenges in Relationships/Partnerships

Recognizing the Complexity of Culturally Competent Work

Purposes of Partnerships

Examples of Points of Interaction in the Research Process

Building Capacity


4. Developing the Focus of Research/Evaluation Studies

In This Chapter

Purposes for the Gathering of Information at This Stage of the Inquiry

Sources That Support the Need for Research and Evaluation

Theoretical Frameworks

Making Use of Sources


5. A Transformative Research and Evaluation Model

In This Chapter

Cyclical Models: Indigenous Peoples

Cyclical Model: PAR

Cyclical Models: Immigrant Communities

Short-Term Research and Evaluation

Types of Transformative Research and Evaluation

Transformative Intervention Approaches


6. Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods

In This Chapter

Mixed- and Multiple-Methods Approaches

Case Studies



Participatory Action Research

Appreciative Inquiry

Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs

Survey Design and Correlational and Causal-Comparative Studies

Gender Analysis: A Mixed-Methods Approach with Potential Transfer to Other

Groups That Experience Discrimination

Rigor in the Process of Research and Evaluation


7. Participants: Identification, Sampling, Consent, and Reciprocity

In This Chapter

Social Justice: Dimensions of Diversity and Cultural Competence

Rationale for Sampling Strategies

Recruitment of Participants

Protection of Human Participants and Ethical Review Boards


8. Data-Collection Methods, Instruments, and Strategies

In This Chapter

Reliability and Validity/Dependability and Credibility

Language as a Critical Issue

Planning Data-Collection Strategies

Specific Data-Collection Strategies


9. Data Analysis and Interpretation

In This Chapter

Transformative Theories as Guides to Data Analysis and Interpretation

Involving the Community in Analysis and In

View More



Donna M. Mertens is Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations and Research at Gallaudet University, where she teaches advanced research methods and program evaluation to deaf and hearing students. She received the Distinguished Faculty Award from Gallaudet in 2007. The primary focus of her work is transformative mixed-methods inquiry in diverse communities that prioritizes ethical implications of research in pursuit of social justice. A past president of the American Evaluation Association (AEA), Dr. Mertens provided leadership in the development of the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation and the establishment of the AEA Diversity Internship Program with Duquesne University. She received AEA’s highest honor for service to the organization and the field. She has published numerous books and journal articles; conducts and consults on evaluations; and leads professional development activities on research and evaluation in many national and international settings.


I've been searching for the right text for my master's-level course entitled Research in Community Settings. I've just finished reading this book, and I think it is terrific! It is just right for a course in which students will be engaging in community-university partnerships as well as learning to think critically about research.--Robb Travers, PhD, Department of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

As the world becomes more interconnected and diverse, our research methods need to keep up with changes. Mertens writes beautifully about conducting research in the service of social justice, using a transformative lens and focusing clearly on each step in the process. This book illustrates why Mertens is so highly regarded for her writing that links research methods theory with practice. I highly recommend this book for researchers and graduate students across the social and human sciences.--John W. Creswell, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Mertens focuses on using research and evaluation to transform people’s lives and communities. Including historically excluded and marginalized people in the processes of generating and using knowledge is transformative not only for research participants, but also for the researchers and evaluators who engage with them. The genius of Mertens's comprehensive approach resides in the way she makes transformative inquiry accessible and inclusive yet intellectually robust and methodologically rigorous. She invites us into the transformative process, changing the ways we both think about and conduct research and evaluation. This book is for anyone open to seriously engaging the transformative power of inclusive inquiry.--Michael Q. Patton, author of Utilization-Focused Evaluation, Fourth Edition

Mertens gets to the heart of how to ground research and evaluation projects in a social justice framework, in line with multiple disciplinary perspectives that embrace a transformative paradigm. This book will challenge students--including those who have not previously questioned their basic societal beliefs and assumptions--to explore diversity and oppression issues in new ways. I appreciated the inclusion of truly diverse groups, including ethnocultural minority groups and others, in the discussions of the various research and evaluation projects. The international examples and perspectives were very refreshing, too.--Gary W. Harper, Department of Psychology, DePaul University

With the increase in awareness of diversity, a book like this one is long overdue. This is the first book I have read that comprehensively discusses how to approach evaluation using strategies that are culturally appropriate and inclusive of diverse communities. Mertens provides a holistic and inclusive way of thinking about research methodology. She does a wonderful job of explaining the transformative paradigm in lay language.--Katrina L. Bledsoe, Associate Project Director, Walter R. McDonald & Associates, Washington, DC

This important book assembles the complex array of procedures, perspectives, and priorities associated with transformative research and evaluation. It blends the many voices and illustrations available in the literature to assist the reader in identifying what is possible in this important new paradigm. Significant cross-cultural and international examples of studies that truly warrant the label of 'transformative' are incorporated.--Melvin E. Hall, Department of Educational Psychology, Northern Arizona University

This is the first book that specifically addresses research methodology for the transformative perspective....Although the book prioritizes an educational focus, it has relevance beyond education and scholars from management disciplines can add a practical and penetrating reading to their research toolbox....The audience encompasses novice researchers and evaluators, advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate students, more experienced teachers and evaluators....This book reminds us all that social research is embedded within a system of values and the myth of objective and value-free research should be discharged. It demonstrates how to blend science and action in an attempt to solve specific problems and promote social change.
--Organizational Research Methods, 11/1/2008