Essential Competencies for Program Evaluators

Chapter 11

Question 4: Which competencies in Figure 11.3 are new or surprising to you? Which do you think are most important? Would you add any competencies to the list?

The list provided in Figure 11.3 is quite detailed and comprehensive; at first glance, I can’t think of anything to add.  However, perhaps as I write something will come to my mind.

Since I’m new to evaluation, all of the competencies are in a sense “new” to me.  However, some stand out to me more. For example, as we reviewed the concept of “meta-evaluation” and the standards and principles of evaluation, I have been impressed by the emphasis on ethics and on considering the general and public welfare, which are also competencies mentioned (1.2, 1.5).

Another competency that seems important to me is 3, Situational Analysis.  Under this competency are listed practices such as identifying the interests of relevant stakeholders, addressing conflicts, analyzing the political considerations relevant to the evaluation, respecting the uniqueness of the site and client, and remaining open to input from others.  These strike me because of their emphasis on flexibility.  A good evaluator must be able to roll with the punches, for change will be inevitable during an evaluation.  Moreover, the practices of Situational Analysis also focus on the uniqueness of every client, program, and site.  I think that is vital to remember.  It is easy to want to apply a certain mold to all, but this shows us the importance of focusing on what makes each client unique.

Perhaps the most important competency is 6, Interpersonal Competence.  Repeatedly Dr. Davies has shared experiences where communication skills were vital to smoothing out differences and misunderstandings.  It seems that without Interpersonal Competence, an evaluator will not be able to actually access the information needed for a good evaluation.  This reminds me of “Nelle” Harper Lee’s interpersonal competence, as opposed to Truman Capote’s incompetence.  Without Lee, Capote would not have been able to write In Cold Blood.  However, he later gave Lee hardly any credit (jealous, it seems, of her success with To Kill a Mockingbird).  This is an example of research, not evaluation, but in both cases interpersonal competence was critical to uncovering the important facts.


Fitzpatrick, J., Sanders, J., & Worthen, B.  (2011). Program Evaluation: Alternative Approaches and Practical Guidelines.  4th edition.  New Jersey: Pearson Education.


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