Scriven and Fetterman: Colleagues, Critical Friends, and Compliments


Michael Scriven and Empowerment Evaluation:  A Symbolic Posting in LinkedIn

This brief LinkedIn posting about Fetterman & Associates' efforts to improve test scores, teaching, and learning in Arkansas is symbolic.  At first glance it is simply taking a moment to appreciate the empowerment evaluation work we have been doing in school districts in communities of color for a few decades.  

A quick glance at one of the comments reveals a larger shift in how empowerment evaluation work is perceived in the field.  Michael Scriven, a preeminent evaluation scholar and practitioner, took a moment to complement our work. He said:  "Good work and a great example for all of us!"  He has also said in the past there is much to admire about empowerment evaluation (during our 21st anniversary panel at the American Evaluation Association).

Michael is a good friend and colleague.  He has also been an invaluable critical friend over the years.  His earlier comments were quite pointed and critical in both talks and publications.  Our exchanges were always cordial, but simultaneously tense and intense.  This has been in part because of our deep commitment to the field, but with contrasting world views.  

However, we listened to each other.  He made substantive comments and we made substantive responses to each issue raised.  We also provided hard-headed examples (one after the next for decades) highlighting credible outcomes in the real world. 

The symbolism of this brief exchange documented in a computer screen snapshot was not lost on us and thus shared with our larger extended family - a community of committed colleagues contributing to social change.


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