Gail V. Barrington

Spring

The Lay of the Land: Evaluation Practice in Canada in 2009

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Pages:
1-49

A group of 12 evaluation practitioners and observers takes stock of the state of program evaluation in Canada. Each contributor provides a personal viewpoint, based on his or her own experience in the field. The selection of contributors constitutes a purposive sample aimed at providing depth of view and a variety of perspectives. Each presentation highlights one strength of program evaluation practiced in Canada, one weakness, one threat, and one opportunity. It is concluded that Canadian evaluation has matured in many ways since 2003 (when a first panel scan was conducted): professional designation is a reality; the infrastructure is stronger than ever; organizations are more focused on results. Still, evaluation is weakened by lacunas in advanced education and professional development, limited resources, lack of independence, rigidity in evaluation approaches, and lack of self-assessment. While the demand for evaluation and evaluators appears on the rise, the supply of evaluators and the financial resources to conduct evaluations are not. The collective definition of the field of evaluation still lacks clarity. There is also reassurance in looking toward the future. With increased appetite for evaluation, evaluators could make a real difference, especially if evaluators adopt a more systemic view of program action to offer a global understanding of organizational effectiveness. The implementation of a Certified Evaluator designation by CES is a major opportunity to position evaluation as a more credible discipline.

Special Issue

Empowerment Goes Large Scale: The Canada Prenatal Nutrition Experience

Authors:
Pages:
179-192

This article describes a large-scale federal program evaluation which employed empowerment strategies in its design and implementation. Bandura's concept of group efficacy is important for empowerment evaluation and can enhance ownership of an evaluation by identifying conditions that foster powerlessness and removing them through good evaluation practice. Conger and Kanungo's five-stage empowerment process is described in relation to the evaluation of the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program which provides food supplementation, nutrition counselling, support, education, referral, and lifestyle counselling to pregnant women at risk who are likely to have babies of unhealthy birth weight. Specific strategies described include the use of visual metaphor, participant generation of survey items, variable survey design to meet stakeholder needs, decentralized evaluation funds, use of an evaluation help line, and different levels of evaluation reporting. Early examples of empowerment outcomes are provided in terms of program improvement and heightened community awareness and ownership of program goals.

Fall

The Delphi as a Naturalistic Evaluation Tool

Authors:
Pages:
81-88