- Michael Quinn Patton - Utilization-Focused Evaluation, Saint Paul, MN
- Charmagne E. Campbell-Patton
Evaluation | Public Health Program Evaluation | Qualitative Evaluation
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It is the reference manual of utilization-focused evaluation, one of the main approaches to public policy evaluation. Very well organized and easy to work as a pedagogical support material.
All chapters are new. The revised book has a different organization so the flow and content of chapters is different. No chapters are repeated exactly from the 4th edition.
The revised book is in three parts. The first part describes what utilization-focused evaluation is (chapter 1) and why it matters (chapter 4). For the first time we identify the minimum specifications (min specs) that must be manifested to authentically call an evaluation utilization-focused (chapter 2). Lots of evaluators call their approach utilization-focused. Many are, some aren’t. Adherence to min specs identify which are and which aren’t. Chapter 3 examines the increased importance of evaluative thinking in the last decade, that is, not just conducting evaluations but thinking evaluatively as a general approach to making sense of what is happening in any given context.
The second part of the book presents the single overarching principle of utilization-focused evaluation (chapter 5) followed by 10 operating principles (a chapter devoted to each). As noted above, elaborating these principles is a new way of understanding the practice of utilization-focused evaluation.
The third and final part of the book takes on new directions in evaluation and, correspondingly, new directions in U-FE. We begin with the contemporary context. Misinformation is rampant. Political ideologies trump evidence about what works. Social media make the spread of falsehoods easy and incessant. What is evaluation’s role under these conditions? Chapter 17 offers a utilization-focused perspective.
Chapter 18 makes the case that evaluation can be used to contribute to a more equitable and sustainable world. This is no small claim. Nor is it without controversy. Traditionally evaluation’s role has been to observe and judge but not to intervene. But, in wisdom going back as far as ancient Greece, desperate times call for desperate measures. The climate crisis qualifies as desperate times. Global inequities exacerbate the disparate effects of crises like the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change. Under crisis conditions, the question becomes whether evaluation is part of the problem or can become part of the solution. Chapter 18 offers a vision of evaluation as part of the solution.
That vision becomes even more pronounced in chapter 19 where we consider evaluation for transformation. TRANSFORMATION has become the clarion call on the global stage. Humans are depleting the Earth’s resources at levels, scales, and speed that are changing Earth’s ecological systems and, in so doing, warming, polluting, and degrading the environment at a level that threatens not just humanity, but the natural world. Transformation globally is urgently required to avoid catastrophe for humanity and biodiversity on Earth. Chapter 19 examines evaluation’s role in and potential contribution to global and local systems transformations.
Chapter 20, the book’s concluding chapter, reviews the principles of utilization-focused and applies them to the new and emergent directions for utilization-focused evaluation. The book concludes with the affirmation that utilization-focused evaluation has been on a developmental trajectory and moves into the future committed to continue to evolve and develop in taking on the challenges of contributing to a more just and sustainable world locally and globally.