Engaging program participants in the evaluation is known as participatory evaluation.  (See Matt Bruce’s recent blog on participatory research for more detail about this approach.) The logic of participatory evaluation often resonates with human services providers.  It empowers service recipients to define their needs and goals for the program.

It can be eye opening for program staff to hear participants’ views of what is most important to them, and what they’re hoping to get out of the program.  For example, program aspects that are critical to participants may be only incidental to program staff.  This kind of input can lead to improved understanding of the program logic, as well as changes to desired outcomes.

In what ways could you bring participants into your evaluation process?