The natural sciences have recently ramped up their use of members of communities in areas they are studying by using citizen scientists for data collections and (sometimes) analysis. Project using citizen scientists have seen positive outcomes beyond the specific research science, as citizens increase in knowledge, scientific literacy, and community engagement.
It follows then, that we can do the same in evaluation, using a Citizen Evaluation Team. Collaborative and participatory evaluation already engage the community in the evaluation practice. Using the framework of a Citizen Evaluation Team places the evaluator necessarily as a coach/trainer/and facilitator to support the skill-building of the citizen evaluators. This provides a paradigm shift in the current power structures in many evaluations. The evaluator is now tasked with supporting the development of rigorous thinking and providing opportunities for practices and iteration led by the citizens.
I am excited to begin a project with Harmony Project Phoenix, an arts-focused youth development program located in Phoenix, AZ, using the Citizen Evaluation Team model. Over the next year, I will provide emerging lessons to refine this model. Stay tuned for some evaluation fun!