Fawcett, S.B., Boothroyd, R., Schultz, J.A., Francisco, V.T., Carson, V., and Bremby, R. (2003). Building capacity for participatory evaluation within community initiatives. Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, 26 (2), 21-36.


Participatory evaluation is the process by which those doing the work contribute to understanding and improving it. In the context of community initiatives, this often involves co-production of knowledge -local people and outside evaluators sharing responsibility for gathering data and interpreting its meaning. We outline a six-component framework for participatory evaluation: (a) Naming and framing the problem/goal to be addressed, (b) Developing a logic model (or theory of practice) for how to achieve success, (c) Identifying evaluation questions and appropriate methods, (d) Documenting the intervention and its effects, (e) Making sense of the data, and (f) Using the information to celebrate and make adjustments. Incorporating examples from different community initiatives, we examine how to support and build capacity for participatory evaluation. To help guide the collaborative work of participatory evaluation among community members and outside evaluators, we outline orienting questions (e.g., what are we seeing?) and core activities (e.g., characterizing the data) for each component, and describe Internet-based supports to help reflect and act on what we see. Finally, we discuss challenges, benefits, and opportunities in this approach to supporting and building capacity for participatory evaluation within community initiatives for health and development.