Who are the stakeholders in your project evaluation? How should they be engaged in the evaluation?  An evaluation stakeholder is anyone who is involved in or affected by a project or its evaluation —from the student experiencing a new curriculum to an NSF program officer monitoring a project’s progress. Engagement can be anything from serving as an information source for the evaluation to participating in data interpretation and recommendation development. With such broad definitions, it can be difficult to figure out the right mix of whom to involve in evaluation activities and how.

We have created a new resource to support reflection and decision-making around this issue. The Identifying Stakeholders and their Role in an Evaluation worksheet present a series of prompts to help PIs and evaluators move from thinking generically about stakeholder engagement to identifying specific individuals and the type of involvement best suited to them.

Involving stakeholders in a project’s evaluation has many benefits. For example, when stakeholders are engaged in various aspects of an evaluation, it usually increases the evaluation’s relevance and usefulness to the project. When key stakeholders demonstrate support for the evaluation, it may enhance cooperation with data collection. Stakeholders’ knowledge of a project’s context and content typically exceeds that of an external evaluator; that knowledge can be tapped for myriad purposes throughout an evaluation. But stakeholder engagement is not a one-size-fits-all activity. It’s not necessary—and rarely feasible—to involve all stakeholders to the same degree in an evaluation. Maybe some just need to be kept abreast of evaluation activities, while others should take a more active role in decision making. The worksheet is intended to help you figure out what stakeholder engagement should look like in your project.

Click on the link to download the Identifying Stakeholders and their Role in an Evaluation worksheet.

About the Authors

Lori Wingate

Lori Wingate box with arrow

Executive Director, The Evaluation Center, Western Michigan University

Lori has a Ph.D. in evaluation and more than 20 years of experience in the field of program evaluation. She is co-principal investigator of EvaluATE and leads a variety of evaluation projects at WMU focused on STEM education, health, and higher education initiatives. Dr. Wingate has led numerous webinars and workshops on evaluation in a variety of contexts, including CDC University and the American Evaluation Association Summer Evaluation Institute. She is an associate member of the graduate faculty at WMU. She, along with Dr. Kelly Robertson, led the development of The Evaluation Center's online training program, Valeo (valeoeval.com)

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