Qualitative Work in Evaluation: Why? When? and How? For the World We Want



This daylong workshop explores the use of qualitative work in program evaluation.  There are trade-offs whenever we determine the nature of evaluation questions and the approaches and methods we use to inform our clients.  Let’s reflect on qualitative approaches and methods, consider various forms, and think through how and when to use these practices to encourage and support multiple stakeholder voices, a critical component of Evaluation for the World We Want!

This workshop explores:

  • the WHY of qualitative work in evaluation: what forms of evidence will be credible, how can we align
    method with evaluation purpose and needs, exploration of the “ologies” that underpin our work (epistemology, ontology, axiology) . The why will conclude by including stakeholders’ participation and contribution;
  • the WHEN of qualitative approaches: evaluability and appropriateness of participant selection, of method/approach, aligning specific approaches and methods with suitable evaluation questions; and
  • the HOW: forms of data aligned with analysis, hallmarks of quality data and analysis in qualitative inquiry, and notes from the field — how to conduct a variety of methods. It will also take into consideration the trustworthiness of data.

After initial explorations of WHY and WHEN, the workshop will focus on the HOW of qualitative evaluation techniques and include mini-modules of conducting various qualitative methods including focus groups, interviews, observations, and other methods of interest to participants.  Each module will include resources for participants to consult, simulations, and debriefings that discuss advantages and challenges involved with each method.


Dr. Cindy Tananis, University of Pittsburgh

Founded/serves as the Director of the Collaborative for Evaluation and Assessment Capacity (CEAC) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. CEAC was formed in 2008 to extend evaluation work in education, engaging doctoral students and assorted faculty in serving our community’s evaluation needs. Dr. Tananis is an Associate Professor and teaches courses in evaluation, case study research, educational foundations and educational leadership.  Her education and evaluation experience crosses over 35 years. See www.ceac.pitt.edu for more information.








Sunday May 24, from 9:00 am to 4 :00 pm

Link to CES competencies for evaluators

  • Defines evaluation methods (quantitative,  qualitative or mixed)
  • Identifies data sources
  • Develops reliable and valid measures/tools
  • Collects data
  • Assesses validity of data
  • Assesses reliability of data
  • Assesses trustworthiness of data
  • Analyzes and interprets data