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Reflecting on evaluation practice by considering an educative values-engaged approach: How would it have changed this utilisation-focused evaluation?

Jo MacDonald and Roseanna Bourke

Reflective practice is recognised as one of the four core competency domains for evaluators in Aotearoa New Zealand. This paper presents what happens when two theoretical positions or evaluation approaches are juxtaposed to reflect on evaluation practice. Taking a recently completed theory-based, utilisation-focused evaluation of a youth resilience programme piloted nationally, the paper considers how an alternative approach—an educative values-engaged theoretical perspective—might have influenced the evaluation. It highlights how these two approaches are enacted in five aspects of evaluation practice: engaging with stakeholders; use of programme theory; generating evaluation questions; methods; and analysis and reporting. The paper argues that knowledge of more than one evaluation approach and theoretical perspective expands the evaluation imagination, giving evaluators options and alternatives in evaluation practice. 

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