Rights-Focused Evaluation


Evaluation developed with a project and programme focus.  Traditional evaluation questions concerned whether project or programme models were appropriately implemented and whether intended objectives were attained.  While projects and programmes remain a primary focus for evaluation, the new century has brought new challenges on the cutting edge of evaluation practice.  We are now engaged in evaluating strategies, systems change, community initiatives, ecosystem sustainability, social innovation, institutional transformations, collaborative and collective impact, foundational principles, cross-cultural interconnections, and complex dynamic changes, to name but a few of the objects of evaluation that call for designs, methods, and approaches that go well beyond traditional project and program approaches.

One emergent arena on the cutting edge is rights-focused evaluation.  How can rights be used as a framework for evaluation? The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Aboriginal rights defined in the Constitution Act 1982, subsequent Supreme Court decisions including the Tsilhqot’in decision, as well as treaty rights can be used as an evaluation framework. In New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi provides a framework for evaluation. In the United States, the Constitution’s Bill of Rights and treaties with Native American groups have evaluation implications. At a global level, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child can be used to generate evaluation criteria.

This workshop will examine rights-focused evaluation as an important direction for evaluation practice and evaluative thinking.

Michael Quinn Patton will facilitate this session via videoconference, with an onsite facilitator. Participants will attend in-person at the conference and via videoconference.

You will learn:

  • What rights-focused evaluation is
  • When and why rights should be used to generate evaluation criteria
  • What evaluation frameworks are especially amendable to a rights focus
  • A vision of a right to evaluation
  • The strengths and weaknesses of rights-focused evaluation


Michael Quinn Patton is an independent evaluation consultant with more than 40 years experience. He is a former President of the American Evaluation Association (AEA).  He has authored six evaluation books including Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use, a new 4th edition of Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods (2015), and Essentials of Utilization-Focused Evaluation (2012). He is a recipient of the Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Award for “outstanding contributions to evaluation use and practice” and the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award for lifetime contributions to evaluation theory, both from the American Evaluation Association. He co-authored Getting to Maybe: How the World Is Changed with two Canadian authors, Francis Westley and Brenda Zimmerman. He regularly conducts workshops for The Evaluators’ Institute (TEI) and the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) in Ottawa each summer.






Evaluation basics: know different kinds of evaluation, Joint Committee Standards for Evaluation, and the basics of evaluation design and measurement (qualitative and quantitative).


Wednesday, June 8 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Link to CE competencies for evaluators

  • Considers human rights and the public welfare in evaluation practice
  • Examines organizational, political, community and social contexts
  • Attends to issues of diversity and culture
  • Identifies the interests of all stakeholders
  • Develops evaluation designs
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