Understanding the Potential for Arts-Informed Inquiry in Program Evaluation

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Searle, Michelle
Arts-informed , Evaluation , Methodology , Values , Program , Use , Education , Arts
Program evaluation is a form of systematic inquiry designed to meet the needs of those who are working on or who are responsible for a program. One challenge faced by the field of evaluation is responding to the increasing complexity of social programing and diverse informational needs. Methodological innovation is a trait of the field of program evaluation that provides opportunity for responding to challenge faced by the field. Evaluation orientations that rely on qualitative methodologies, which seek to describe, to understand or to interpret complex phenomena are potential sites for arts-informed inquiry. Arts-informed inquiry draws from creative strategies in the arts, where art is produced for the sake of inquiry. Accordingly, through this research I adopt dual roles of evaluator and researcher, to gather empirical evidence about the power of integrating arts-informed inquiry into frameworks for evaluation. In this research, I document how arts-informed inquiry draws from artistic processes to broaden perceptions, make meaningful contributions, and expand evaluator skills. Specifically, the potential for arts-informed inquiry in evaluation is investigated by conducting an evaluation of one program, in one school district. Analysis of this two-phase process occurred by applying a heuristic of three groupings of key concepts within the field of evaluation: methods, values and use. In doing so, I provide a detailed description of the potential for arts-informed inquiry within one program evaluation. This study provides a transparent account of the inquiry process to document the implications for undertaking arts-informed inquiry in program evaluation. In addition, there are theoretical implications for the field of evaluation when they consider the process and representations shaped by inclusion of arts-informed inquiry.
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