Giving individuals, communities, and groups the resources they require to direct their development and accomplish their objectives is the main goal of empowerment evaluation. It is a participative and collaborative approach. David Fetterman developed this strategy in the 1990s. It is predicated on the notion that those whom a program or intervention has most impacted are most qualified to assess how effectively it functions and suggest ways to improve it.
Giving people and groups the tools they need to participate actively in the evaluation process rather than only receiving evaluations from outside sources is the aim of empowerment evaluation. By incorporating individuals in the evaluation process, empowerment evaluation aims to increase accountability, foster learning, and promote improvement.
Principles of Empowerment Evaluation
The empowerment evaluation principles give an evaluation a feeling of direction and purpose. The key principles are:
- improvement through assisting people in making their programs more effective,
- community ownership facilitates decision-making within the community,
- diversity, involvement, and inclusion are promoted,
- open and equitable decision-making and democratic involvement. 5. Social justice—addresses societal imbalances,
- community knowledge,
- fact-based strategies that respect and draw on expert knowledge and collective wisdom,
- capacity building that helps partners evaluate programs, plan better, and carry them out more effectively,
- organizational learning by building on successes, learning from failures, and making course corrections, and
Steps for Empowerment Evaluation
A few steps Fetterman (1996) provides can be useful when assessing empowerment evaluation. Although they serve as a guide, these stages are not the only way to conduct an empowerment review. Reviewing the plan is the first action to take. It includes assessing the program’s current status in light of its advantages and disadvantages. The second concept is to define program goals based on anticipated results to enhance the program. Third, decide on and prepare strategies to assist program employees in achieving their objectives. Next, decide on the types of documentation the staff will need to create to monitor progress and end outcomes (Fetterman, 1996).
Similarities to Participator Evaluation
The participatory action research and evaluation method involves the people being evaluated, similar to empowerment evaluation. However, empowerment evaluation also aims to give people a sense of ownership.
Empowerment evaluation aims to transfer research evaluation knowledge from the researcher-expert to program stakeholders for the explicit and continuous use and benefit of programs serving persons with limited power. It distinguishes empowerment evaluation from other collaborative or participatory methodologies.
Like PAR, empowerment evaluation is a continuous cycle of reflection and development. In contrast to conventional evaluation techniques, empowerment evaluation takes a cycle-based approach, providing participants and practitioners greater authority than the evaluator.
Benefits and Limitations
One benefit of empowerment evaluation is allowing the participants to choose how to gather or evaluate information. Another benefit is increasing the organization’s capacity and capabilities to carry out the task independently.
Regarding limitations, People dislike the empowerment evaluation’s emphasis on self-study. Further, the empowerment evaluation is difficult to distinguish from other interactive and participatory techniques.
Fetterman, D. M. (1993). Speaking the language of power: Communication, collaboration, and advocacy (Translating Ethnography into Action). London, England: Falmer Press.
Fetterman, D. M. (1994). Empowerment evaluation (presidential address). Evaluation Practice, 15(1),1-15.
Fetterman, D. M. (1995b). In response to Dr. Daniel Stufflebeam’s: Empowerment evaluation, objectivist evaluation, and evaluation standards: Where the future of evaluation should not go and where it needs to go. Evaluation Practice, 16(2),179-199.
Fetterman, D. M. (1996a). Ethnography in the virtual classroom. Practicing Anthropology, 18(3), 36-39.