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Critical evaluation in social work


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Critical evaluation follows the mission, values, and ethical principles of critical social work. Critical evaluation prioritizes social justice and human rights. Therefore, it catches the voice of those who have been pushed to the societal margins. Critical evaluation should also work as a catalyst for consciousness rising, equality, empowerment and social justice. It should also produce transformation and political emancipation.

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Critical evaluation in social work

  1. 1. Critical Evaluation in Social Work 06/08/2013 Minna Kivipelto, THL 1
  2. 2. Why critical evaluation? According to NASW • The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human wellbeing and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty • Social workers should promote and facilitate evaluation and research to contribute to the development of knowledge • Social workers should critically examine and keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to social work and fully use evaluation and research evidence in their professional practice 06/08/2013 Minna Kivipelto, THL 2
  3. 3. Also according to NASW • Social workers should promote the general welfare of society, from local to global levels, and the development of people, their communities, and their environments. • Critical evaluation follows the mission, values, and ethical principles of social work (Kivipelto 2005, 2006; Kivipelto & Yliruka 2012, 103) 06/08/2013 Minna Kivipelto, THL 3
  4. 4. Critical evaluation: critically oriented evaluation approaches • Empowering evaluation (Adams 2003) • Empowerment evaluation (Dullea & Mullender 1999) • Emancipatory qualitative evaluation (Whitmore 2001) • Transformative participatory evaluation (Brisolara 1998; Cousins & Whitmore 1998) • Feminist evaluation (Humphries 1999) • Critical Reflection (Fook, Gardner 2003) • Political approaches in evidence-based social work (Gray, Plath & Webb 2009, 64-67) • Critical evaluations are directed by theories of critical social science 06/08/2013 Minna Kivipelto, THL 4
  5. 5. • Critical evaluation is cautious about ”the temptation” to treat any claims as truth and to regard the scientific method as having replaced the essential process of judgement-making about ”the good” (Everitt & Hardiker 1996, 51-52). • (Therefore) critical evaluation needs considerable and total commitment to the ethics, values and politics that only critical theories involve (Everitt & Hardiker 1996, 23-25, 98-100). 06/08/2013 Minna Kivipelto, THL 5
  6. 6. Critical evaluation theories Critical evaluation is based on critical theories such as • Modern critical theories, e.g. anti-theories (anti- oppressive, -racist etc), empowering approaches, feminist theories which can give quite exact idicators for critical evaluation. • Postmodern critical theories e.g. postmodern feminism, Foucault´s theory, postmodern critical theories which lead to evaluate how social work promotes fair and equal speech and interaction situations and discourses. (Kivipelto 2006.) 06/08/2013 Minna Kivipelto, THL 6
  7. 7. Critical evaluation methods • Usually cooperative, narrative, participatory and dialogical, specially when using postmodern theories • Also traditional research methods are used, specially when theoretical background comes from modern theories (questionnaire, interview) • It is possible and also important to integrate the evaluation into daily social work • Evaluation steps should be accepted by all participants • Critical evaluation should be transparent to all participants 06/08/2013 Minna Kivipelto, THL 7
  8. 8. Knowledge-formation • Broad view for evidence-gathering and knowldge- formation: more than scientific data constitues knowledge for practice. • Evaluation is inherently a political activity. All data and information are political reflecting power differences and dynamics that are features of social life.(Gray, Plath & Webb 2009;Taylor & Balloch, 2005.) • Therefore, knowledge-formation processes are considered in the wider social and political context. • The evidence is used to raise awareness of issues for disadvantaged and marginalized groups. (Gray, Plath & Webb 2009.) 06/08/2013 Minna Kivipelto, THL 8
  9. 9. Critical evaluation process (illustrative) 1. It is specified, what kind of knowledge we need, how and to what purposes the information is going to be produced 2. Justifications of evaluation are analysed and specified with stakeholders/participants 3. Appropriate theories and methods are selected 4. Data is collected and documented 5. The results are compiled, analyzed and dealt with participants 6. Conclusions are made and practices are developed accordingly 06/08/2013 Minna Kivipelto, THL 9
  10. 10. Conclusions • The success of critical evaluation can be seen in many ways; for example, if the participants’ self- esteem has increased or their personal relationships have improved (Kivipelto & Yliruka 2012, 113). • Critical evaluation discloses how evaluation supports or challenges certain knowledge and power structures. • Critical evaluation facilitates critical thinking, enables changes towards equality, challenges oppression, and empowers marginalized and silenced groups (Kivipelto & Yliruka 2012). 06/08/2013 Minna Kivipelto, THL 10
  11. 11. References • Adams, Robert (2003) Social Work and Empowerment, 3rd Edition, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire & New York. • Brisolara, Sharon: The History of Participatory Evaluation and Current Debates in the Field. In: Whitmore, Elizabeth (ed.) Understanding and Practicing Participatory Evaluation. New Directions for Evaluation (1998): 80, p. 25-41 Dullea, Karen & Mullender, Audrey (1999) Evaluation and Empowerment. In: Shaw, Ian & Lishman, Joyce (ed.) Evaluation and Social Work Practice. Sage Publications, London, 81-100. • Cousins, J. Bradley & Whitmore, Elizabeth (1998) Framing Participatory Evaluation. In: Whitmore, Elizabeth (ed.) Understanding and Practicing Participatory Evaluation. New Directions for Evaluation, 80, 5-23. • Everitt, Angela & Hardiker, Pauline (1996 ) Evaluating for Good Practice, Macmillan, London. • Fook, Jan (2002) Social Work. Critical Theory and Practice, Sage Publications, London, Thousand Oaks & New Delhi. • Gardner, Fiona (2003) Critical Reflection in Community-Based Evalaution. Qualitative Social Work,197-212. • Gray, Mel & Plath, Debbie & Webb, Stephen (2009) evidence-Based Social Work. A Critical Stance. London: Routledge. • Humphries, Beth (1999) Feminist Evaluation. In: Shaw, Ian & Lishman, Joyce (eds.) Evaluation and Social Work Practice, Sage Publications London, Thousand Oaks & New Delhi, 118-132. • Kivipelto, Minna (2005) Critical reflection on the evaluation plan of the VARPUNEN-project. Hallinnon Tutkimus 24 (4), 3-15. • Kivipelto, Minna (2006) Sosiaalityön kriittinen arviointi. Sosiaalityön kriittisen arvioinnin perustelut, teoriat ja menetelmät. Seinäjoen ammattikorkeakoulun julkaisusarja A3. Seinäjoki. Väitöskirja. [Critical Evaluation in Social Work. Justifications, theories and methods for the critical evaluation of social work. Doctoral Thesis.] • Kivipelto, Minna & Yliruka, Laura (2012) Mirror method as an approach for critical evaluation in social work. 13(2) Critical Social Work. • NASW. Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. • Taylor, David & Balloch, Susan (2005). The politics of evaluation: an overview. In D. Taylor & S. Balloch (Eds.), The politics of evaluation. Participation and policy implementation (pp. 1–17). Bristol, UK: Policy Press. • Whitmore, Elisabeth (2001) ”People Listened to What We Had to Say”: Reflections on an Emancipatory Qualitative Evaluation. In: Shaw, Ian & Gould, Nick. Qualitative Research in Social Work, Sage Publications, London, Thousand Oaks & New Delhi, 83-99. 06/08/2013 Minna Kivipelto, THL 11