On November 7th, Jennie Phillips will deliver a conference presentation titled “Debunking Utilization-Focused Evaluation (U-FE): Lessons Learned Applying UFE Theory to Practice” at The 25th Edward F. Kelly Evaluation Conference, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, ON, Canada. The talk will discuss the experience of applying UFE to the Cyber Stewards Network project at the Citizen Lab through introduction to UFE, description of the project and lessons learned in the process. See below for the conference abstract. Registration information is here and conference program is here.

In 2013, the Citizen Lab decided to employ Utilization-Focused Evaluation (U-FE) to facilitate the development of their Cyber Stewards Network (CSN) Project. In partnership with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the CSN is a global network of organizations and individuals that use evidenced-based research for policy advocacy to ensure and promote a secure and open Internet. With mentorship support for the DECI-2 group,⁠1 U-FE was selected for its distinction from other forms of evaluation. It is an approach for making decisions and focuses evaluation on intended use by intended users instead of on the methods or the object of evaluation⁠2. It can include any kind of data (qualitative, quantitative, mixed), evaluative methodology (summative, formative and developmental), design (e.g. experimental, naturalistic) and focus (outcomes, impacts, costs, processes). Evaluation content is determined by the stakeholders⁠3 , and the researcher becomes a facilitator of decision-making rather than an independent judge⁠4. Using the 12 step U-FE process designed by Ramirez & Broadhead (2013),⁠5 the CSN project experienced great value from applying U-FE and realized a series of lessons learned in the process deemed valuable to others using U-FE. This talk aims to share the insight gained from this project, by sharing our lessons learned when attempting to apply U-FE theory to practice. 

1 The Developing Evaluation & Communication Capacity in Information Society Research (DECI-2) research project is an IDRC-funded research project. It provides capacity building in evaluation and research communications, and more specifically mentoring on the U-FE process. See http://evaluationandcommunicationinpractice.ca

2 Patton, M. Q. (1994). Developmental evaluation. Evaluation Practice, 15(3), 311–319.

3 Patton, M. Q. (2008). Utilization-Focused Evaluation. SAGE Publications, Incorporated.

4 Patton, M. Q. (1994). Developmental evaluation. Evaluation Practice, 15(3), 311–319.

Phelps, S. (2013). A Dangerous Idea. In D. Etkin, A. Buchanon, G. Cheung, C. Macdonald, H. Marcon, M. Musten, et al., (pp. 1–31). Presented at the World Conference on Disaster Management.

5 Ramirez, R., & Broadhead, D. (2013). Utilization Focused Evaluation: A primer for evaluators (pp. 1–132).