Evaluating Public Participation

The C2D2 community asks, "How do we know – what is the evidence to demonstrate – that using dialogue and deliberation makes a difference?” The following resources can help us evaluate our work to engage the public in dialogue and deliberation.
But this is just a beginning – please help gather these resources! Is there a document, case study, or website that you have found particularly useful in your thinking about evaluating dialogue and deliberation? Email us at infoatc2d2 [dot] ca and we’ll post it!

See below for resources and suggestions offered by the C2D2 community.

How to Evaluate

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Assessing the Impacts of Public Participation: Concepts, Evidence and Policy Implications, Julia Abelson and François-Pierre Gauvin. CPRN Research Report P|06. March 2006. 52 pp. The arguments for engaging Canadians at all stages of the policy process are clear and overwhelming. Citizens demand a more meaningful role in policy development. Engagement is a powerful antidote to voter disaffection with political institutions. It means greater policy effectiveness and legitimacy, and it fosters inclusion and social cohesion.

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A Report on the Workshop on Evaluation of Public Involvement Activities. Sandra Zagon. July 2003. 14 pp. A workshop on Public Involvement Evaluation, held in Ottawa in February2003, brought together a group of 20 representatives from the private sector, six federal government departments and four NGOs.

Beginning with the End in Mind: A Call for Goal-Driven Deliberative Practice. Martin Carcasson. Summer 2009. This essay explores how a clearer understanding of the goals and purposes we are trying to achieve through public engagement can sharpen our methods and increase our impacts. It offers a practical framework to help practitioners of public engagement think through critical questions about their work: before, during and after public deliberation.

Kettering report

Sustaining Public Engagement: Embedded Deliberation in Local Communities. Archon Fung and Elena Fagotto. This Kettering Foundation Report features concrete examples of sustained community-led dialogue and problem-solving efforts, and should be of interest to researchers and community organizers.
 john  gastil A Comprehensive Approach to Evaluating Deliberative Public Engagement. John Gastil. 2008. This essay provides a definition of citizen deliberation and suggests broad categories for evaluation, including design integrity, sound deliberation and judgment, influential conclusions/actions, and other secondary benefits (e.g., positive changes to individual participants’ civic attitudes and improvement in local political practices). Evaluation methods are identified for measuring each of these evaluation criteria, and summary recommendations consider how to conduct a thorough, integrated project assessment with a small or larger evaluation budget.
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Evidence of Change: Exploring Civic Engagement Evaluation. "This report presents a summary of the key findings that came out of the Civic Engagement Evaluation Summit convened by the partner organizations [Building Movement Project, the Alliance for Children and Families and the Ms. Foundation for Women] and ends with a set of recommendations for how to increase the nonprofit sector’s capacity to respond to the increasing need for tools to measure the impact of civic engagement and social change work."


Consensus Document : As part of the 2009 C2D2's conference, ideas and comments were collected to answer the question:"How do we use dialogue and deliberation to make stronger communities and healthier democracies?"Follow the link to find a list of all the written comments that were submitted via a Dotmocracy wall and a Sunday plenary brainstorm, roughly organized by theme.

  D&D Principle and Design Do’s & Don’ts Insights from the Front Line : Summary from Saturday Morning Plenary, October 2005 C2D2 Ottawa Conference

Examples of Evaluation

  Collaborative Decision Making and Adaptive Management for Greater Sage-grouse Recovery in Southeastern Alberta. Jen Chandler, C. Cormack Gates, and Dale Eslinger. 2004. "Combining collaborative resource management with adaptive resource management offers a planning process involving value-based decisions that are informed and guided by science. We applied these principles to a recovery planning process for the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus urophasianus) in southeastern Alberta. We review the planning process and provide comments on the preliminary evaluation of its effectiveness based on participant observation."

New Forms of Decision Making. Wolfgang Pfefferkorn, Mojca Golobi, Marc Zaugg Stern, Matthias Buchecker. March 2006. "What new forms of decision-making are the most promising with regard to sustainable development when it comes to negotiating regional planning demands?

Resources from the C2D2 Community

From Philippe Andrecheck:

I respectfully submit "Wiki Government". This book, in many ways, argues for collaboration instead of dialogue and deliberation, but it also offers many examples of how this was and can be done through online technologies that previously made it impossible or unmanageable. It also offers advice and lessons on how collaboration can follow D&D and achieve the goals set out in the D&D stages.

I've attached (see below!) a summary of key points I wrote after I had read it, which includes a table comparing deliberation and collaboration. A very interesting and useful book going forward IMO. Merci pour la chance de participer!

From Stef Kuypers:

One website that jumps to my mind immediately is the following one:
This website is all about hosting meaningful conversations. I myself have attended an open learning day with some of the members and the topic was participation. It is amazing just how much relevant content can be generated in a day when the process is facilitated correctly!

From Ian Welsh:

The link below is to a post on my Human Resources blog. It was not wriiten with D & D focus, but seems relevant and if there is any interest I could certainly be more specific in future posts. The second link is to a list of all my posts (135+) many of which focus on communications.



From Tim Bonneman:

Here's another resource you might find helpful. Last September, we launched ParticipateDB: ParticipateDB (http://participateDB.com) is a collaborative catalogue for online tools for participation (often referred to as tools for web-based engagement, online participation, e-participation, e-consultation, online dialogue, online deliberation etc.). Our goal is to build a comprehensive directory that allows people to easily share, discover, explore and compare the tools available today and how they can best be applied. More info in the FAQ: http://participatedb.com/faq

We will add tagging soon, which will make it easier to identify entries that deal with ROI. In the meantime, here's the list of tools and projects from Canada we've captured so far: http://participatedb.com/countries/37

ParticipateDB is a team effort. We currently have 30+ contributors. Let me know if anyone on your team would like an account. We're happy to reference any resources you can find as they relate to online participation.

From Teresa Bellefontaine:

This link lead to a two-page briefing note from Policy Horizons Canada

Below are the links to two of the papers commissioned by Policy Horizons Canada (of which one is on the Welcoming Communities website) :

Evaluation of integrated management
Meyer Burstein's analysis


Summary of Wiki Government.final_.doc68 KB
D&D Principle and Design - Summary Report1.pdf283.42 KB