Empowerment Evaluation Principles in Practice

Fetterman, D.M. and Wandersman, A. (2005)

New York: Guilford Publications


Book Review


Stewart Donaldson

"Since its introduction by David Fetterman in 1994, empowerment evaluation has spread like wildfire across the globe.  From disadvantaged schools and communities to NASA and to corporate offices in South Africa, the 10 principles of empowerment evaluation are being embraced and applied to foster self-evaluation and self-determination.  What is it about empowerment evaluation that appeals so much to evaluation clients and stakeholders from all walks of life?  The answer lies in this new volume, the most comprehensive, readable, and up-to-date treatment of this evaluation approach.  I highly recommend this text to practicing evaluators, evaluation scholars, and instructors and students interested in learning about new evaluation theories for improving practice and learning to conduct effective empowerment evaluations."

--Stewart I. Donaldson, Dean, School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences, Claremont Graduate University

"Empowerment evaluation signals the end of the days when evaluation was done in isolation of staff members and program participants.  The 'new age' of evaluation enables groups to achieve programmatic goals by putting the power in the hands of those individuals who know their programs and have a stake in seeing the programs succeed.  Fetterman and Wandersman give us the principles and the tools to build stronger communities through empowerment evaluation and to develop systems that incorporate evidence-based strategies.  This text is easy to use and takes the reader from an overview of classic evaluation methods to the heart of empowerment for success.  Thus, graduate students, novice evaluators, and experienced professionals can easily grasp the message and understand the process provided."

--Shirley S. Travis, PhD, APRN, FAAN, Dean, College of Nursing and Health Science, George Mason University

Fetterman and Wandersman have made a wonderful contribution to evaluation theory and literature with their new book, Empowerment Evaluation in Practice. It's no accident that the "in practice" part of the title is printed in red - that is the focus of this work. Beginning where the 1996 textbook, Empowerment Evaluation, left off, the volume clarifies the 10 principles of empowerment evaluation and applies them to the real world setting in two detailed case studies. In their own words, they have successfully revealed the "heart and soul" of empowerment evaluation and enthusiastically offer it as a method that can be learned and mastered by anyone who is willing to try.

-- Dr. Fran Butterfoss, Professor and Head, Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, Center for Pediatric Research

“This book represents an important step forward for Fetterman and Wandersman....By articulating the defining principles of practice, practitioners of empowerment evaluation now have a framework by which their work might be guided.”

-- Evaluation and Program Planning

"This updating of the important concept of empowerment evaluation is ideal for those who teach and carry out human service evaluations. The editors and many of the contributing authors are pioneers in the field, and bring the ideas up to date with accessible examples that will help newcomers to the field understand and use this valuable and humanistic approach to program evaluation. In the classroom, this book will serve as a readily adaptable and applicable text."

--Leon Ginsberg, Dean, College of Social Work, University of South Carolina

"This work deepens our understanding of empowerment evaluation by providing a clear set of principles together with well-constructed case examples that distinguish EE from other forms of assessment. This book is essential reading for all evaluators, especially those interested in evaluation approaches that complement and reinforce community-based, participatory practices."

--Robert M. Goodman, Professor and Chair, Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh

"This book takes the authors' previous work to the next level.  It provides an excellent, tangible grounding for people new to empowerment evaluation, as well as helping experienced evaluators to reflect on and improve their current practices.  Instead of focusing on feeling good, this book provides examples and tools for doing good through the empowerment evaluation process."

--David M. Chavis, Association for the Study and Development of Community, Gaithersburg, Maryland

"Making change in the world is a complex undertaking, particularly when the aim is to change systems and communities.  Such efforts deserve and need an evaluation process that can simultaneously and interactively help change agents plan, guide, and learn from the change process.  Many of us have been looking for this book, with its compelling theory, its understandable and teachable process, its affirmation of participants’ knowledge and sensibilities, and its practical examples.  This book is an essential resource for all who are planning and executing efforts to improve programs, systems, and communities."

--Peter L. Benson, President, Search Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota

"This volume not only presents the principles of empowerment evaluation, but also provides concrete examples of their efficacy in achieving outstanding outcomes.  The uniqueness of this book is how empowerment and evaluation are applied as interdependent elements in the evaluation process.  Numerous cases clearly demonstrate that there can be no successful evaluation of a program/organization without empowerment of all the stakeholders from the very outset in its planning and implementation, and there can be no empowerment without ongoing, inclusive relationships of mutual accountability.  This is a superb presentation of the principles and practices of empowerment evaluation as a flexible process useful in most program improvement/enhancement efforts."

--Mary Kay Kohles-Baker, Senior Research Nurse, Emory University School of Nursing; Executive Director, Atlanta Regional Health Forum

Given the need to implement evidence-based social-emotional learning (SEL) programs and strategies, assess their impacts, and sustain and improve them over time, this book is a timely resource on evaluation. Intended mainly as a guide for scholars, practitioners, and funders, it makes explicit the key values of empowerment evaluation (EE). Like SEL problem-solving models, EE provides an ongoing and systematic approach in  which program implementation and continual program modification and improvement come together in a cycle of problem definition, goal setting, solution generating and implementation, and outcome evaluation. The special emphasis of EE, however, is on the voice, vision and authority of  the client, as opposed to the outside evaluator. This book provides a valuable and humanistic approach to program evaluation.

 -- CASEL Book Review

(Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning)


Crystallizing Central Issues

2007 Watershed Moments: Clarifications and Addressing Misperceptions

Empowerment Evaluation continues to crystallize central issues for evaluators and the field of evaluation.  An article in the American Journal of Evaluation clarifies many issues in the field and addresses common misperceptions as well.  It is titled:  Empowerment Evaluation:  Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.  The authors were David Fetterman and Abraham Wandersman.  American Journal of Evaluation, Vol. 28, No. 2., June 2007, pp. 179-198.

2005 Watershed Moments:  Early Debates and Crystallizations

Drs. Michael Patton and Scriven have also written book reviews of Empowerment Evaluation Principles in Practice.

Their reviews appeared in the American Journal of Evaluation in the September 2005 issue.  This evaluation book, like the first one, has generated serious discussion and consideration.