Stakeholders are those with "vested interest" in the focus of the evaluation; they are the individuals who are most likely to be affected by the outcome (Thayer & Fine, 2001, p. 104). Depending upon the nature of their involvement with the program, various stakeholder groups may have different perspectives on what is important in terms of areas to address and required feedback. For example, it may be important for the reviewers to know how many students are enrolled and how many have completed the programs, but the local leadership may be far more concerned that the students who complete the coursework are able to fulfill the roles for which the program has trained them.
1. The Students. These folks are currently enrolled and will provide data real-time regarding the struggles and benefits of the program as it exists. The previous students who are now unenrolled may have useful data, but the passage of time has likely clouded the memories of the experience. Further, the students who complete the programs have typically collected additional knowledge, which has the potential to simplify the previous program of study by comparison.
2. The Reviewers. These folks have the unique ability to capture common misconceptions as they appear in the course submissions. For example, if the majority of the students for whom they review are asked to revise the same question, there may be an issue with the wording or the source for this question. Combined with the data from the students, there is the potential for a broader-scope analysis.
3. Dedicated Congregants/Local Leadership. These folks are working with the students as they complete the training and begin doing the work. They will provide data regarding how well they are equipped upon completion and what additional training had to be provided. For example, a first circle liturgist who needs no help running a service would be seen as successful whereas a first circle liturgist who requires additional guidance would reveal areas for improvement.
In terms of the empowerment model, all three groups have the potential to ensure the success of the evaluation through their input for such things as creating questions, analyzing short-answer responses, and assisting with implementing any changes we agree to make.
Thayer, C.E. & Fine, A.H. (2001). Evaluation and outcome measurement in the nonprofit sector: Stakeholder participation. Evaluation and Program Planning. 24:103-108.