AEA Coffee Break: Five Core Processes for Enhancing the Quality of Qualitative Evaluation 

Presenter: Jennifer Jewiss

Date: 25 October 2022

The presenter had reflective questions for the audience, so I figured I’d put mine here, along with my notes from the webinar.

Reflective questions 1: When I think of qualitative approaches to evaluation, the following words come to mind:

  • open
  • emergent
  • unexpected
  • nuance
  • deep
  • devalued by some
  • harder than people think

They put together a book on qualitative methods in evaluation with chapters authored by many evaluators, then identified themes of what makes up quality in qualitative inquiry:

  1. acknowledging who you are and what you bring to the work (you)
    • positionality
    • how do facets of your identity, history, etc. intersect
    • how does it enrich and limit your work as an evaluator?
      • what blind spots do you have? what learning do you need to do?
  2. building and maintaining trusting relationships (us)
    • throughout the entire evaluation
  3. employing sound & explicit methodology (process
    • a wide array of things that can be done in qualitative inquiry
  4. staying true to the data (what we find)
    • hearing and representing the voices and perspectives of participants
    • be really conscious of what you might be bringing to bear on the data (our own priorities, biases, desires) – monitor that to “keep it in its proper place”
  5. fostering learning (what we learn)
    • helping everyone involved learn, including ourselves
    • open-ended learning helps people to surface that tacit knowledge
  • these things are not unique to qualitative
  • a cycle, not linear. They wanted a spiral/dynamic diagram, but publisher suggested a cycle would be more clear

Reflective question 2: how might one use this model to information qualitative evaluation practice?

  • presenter suggested that each of these elements could be a prompt for reflective writing or reflective art (drawing, collages, etc.)
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