Empowerment Evaluation: A Learning Model

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CONFERENCE: Research Appreciation Day

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Shlesma Chhetri; Chhetri, Shlesma; Spence-Almaguer, Emily
Behavioral & Community Health
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Purpose:To demonstrate the use of empower evaluation as a teaching/learning and it's role in promoting inter professional Education.Background:A successful community program must include a continuous quality improvement system that increases its likelihood of accomplishing the set goals (Fetterman & Wandersman, 2005). In order to build this continuous system, stakeholders must have the tools to plan, implement and evaluate their program. Often community organizations lack these tools, thus, creating a barrier in achieving their specified goals. Empowerment evaluation aims to provide such tools to the developers and stakeholders. Driven by the idea of improvement, in empowerment evaluation participants have full control and ownership of their decisions (Fetterman & Wandersman, 2005). Additionally, empowerment evaluation recognizes inequalities and thrives to bridge the gap through social justice, inclusion, community involvement and democratic participation. Hence, it is a necessary approach to a successful program.Method:In a graduate level evaluation course offered by Behavioral and Community Health Department at University of North Texas Health Science Center, a group of students conduct empowerment evaluation with partner organizations as a part of their service learning project each semester. The group initiates this process through dialogue with the organization; helping stakeholders reflect on their work, goals, achievements, existing data collection and management methods, and a vision for the future. Hence, this course provides empowerment evaluation as a teaching as well as a learning model.Results:Through this course two successful empowerment evaluations were completed during spring and fall semesters of 2014. Two community organizations were involved in this process in the respective semesters. The partner organizations shared their anxiety attached to large data management and interpretations and identified it to be one of their major barriers in developing full ownership of their respective programs. They expressed their desire to learn to effectively manage their data which would better equip them in keeping track of their progress. The class, in turn, helped these organizations understand and learn the simple ways in which data can be managed and presented these ideas to the organizations as the final project. Both partners are now implementing these ideas in various capacities. Hence, both organizations have increased their sense of ownership of their respective programs.Conclusion:This poster aims to highlight this unique approach to empowerment evaluation as a teaching/learning model. Moreover, the poster hopes to shed light on the importance of inter-professional learning; collaborating with organizations that work parallel to the fields of public health and appreciating co-learning in its truest sense.