New Resources on the YFE Website!  Child and Youth Participation in Speaking Truth to Power

New Resources on the YFE Website!
Child and Youth Participation in Speaking Truth to Power

Written and assembled by Nick Petten

Seeking children and young people’s perspectives, ideas, opinions, and experiences through participatory approaches in research and evaluation is a valued focus of study and has the ability to speak truth to power. The power that adults typical wield in society often speak on behalf of children and young people and may not truly represent them and, sometimes, completely misrepresent them in order to gain more power.

Children and young people are one of the most marginalized and oppressed groups in society. And yet, today’s adults expect that tomorrow’s adults (children) will solve some pretty wicked, global, complex and complicated challenges that we face as a civilization—climate change, growing income inequality, a resurgence of autocratic and nationalist governments and policies, to name a few. We pin our hopes and dreams on our children and yet deny them the chance to truly participate in society, whether we allow them to vote at a younger age, decide what to learn in the classroom, or design an evaluation or research project.

Thankfully, there are lots (and growing number) of academics, evaluators, thought-leaders and practitioners that are acting in the best interests of the child and young person by co-designing approaches, methods, and processes to genuinely include their participation in things that matter most to them, like how the local playground should be designed, choosing politicians that represent their best interest, or how national policies could be designed to benefit their adult lives and thus the future of humanity. From these approaches, methods, and processes, children and young people stand a better chance of ‘speaking truth’ to powers that haven’t traditionally represented them authentically or have even co-opted their ‘voice’ to progress their own agenda.

If you are someone that works with children and young people and are looking for ways to design, implement and/or evaluate programs and services for them, we’ve collected and curated a list of resources that could help you in your journey.

News: Published Article on Reflexivity

We are proud that one of our associates, Jenna van Draanen, has published an article on ‘Introducing Reflexivity to Evaluation Practice’ in the American Journal of Evaluation. The practice of reflexivity is something that we are actively exploring and employing in our evaluation and research work at Petten Consulting. We believe that it makes us more culturally competent and responsive to the complex needs of our clients. If you have access to scientific journals, please visit the Journal’s website and download the article.

Feel free to contact us with any questions. We’d love to hear what you think about the practice of reflexivity!


There is currently a paucity of literature in the field of evaluation regarding the practice of reflection and reflexivity and a lack of available tools to guide this practice—yet using a reflexive model can enhance evaluation practice. This paper focuses on the methods and results of a reflexive inquiry that was conducted during a participatory evaluation of a project targeting homelessness and mental health issues. I employed an action plan composed of a conceptual model, critical questions, and intended activities. The field notes made throughout the reflexive inquiry were analyzed using thematic content analysis. Results clustered in categories of power and privilege, evaluation politics, the applicability of the action plan, and outcomes. In this case study, reflexivity increased my competence as an evaluation professional: The action plan helped maintain awareness of how my personal actions, thoughts, and personal values relate to broader evaluation values—and to identify incongruence. The results of the study uncovered hidden elements and heightened awareness of subtle dynamics requiring attention within the evaluation and created opportunities to challenge the influence of personal biases on the evaluation proceedings. This reflexive model allowed me to be a more responsive evaluator and can improve practice and professional development for other evaluators.

van Draanen, J. (2016). Introducing Reflexivity to Evaluation Practice An In-Depth Case Study. American Journal of Evaluation, 1098214016668401.