Innovative Approaches to Evaluating Impact: Testing The ‘Evaluative Performance’ Method and Approach in Transdisciplinary Environments

Project: Internally funded project

Project Details


Recent developments such as the global pandemic, gender violence, Black Lives Matter, and not least the climate crisis, have accelerated the search for participatory methods of engagement, participation, and impact across a number of research disciplines. Within these disciplines, citizen voice and lived experience are sought to deepen understanding behind behavioural change as a result of policy or project intervention strategies. Within this there are limitations, for example, the UK Civil Service in 2021 recognises that ‘most policymakers do not consistently have the skills, incentives, or infrastructure to find new evidence about citizens’ (Knight, 2021). It is also argued that policy solutions are too often based on stakeholder opinion, and rarely are the voices and experiences of citizens used to evidence policymaking (UK Civil Service, 2020, 63). Therefore, policy engagement methodologies as the basis of evidence gathering are themselves generating ‘marginalised groups’, ‘the seldom heard’, and creating barriers to access for citizens.

This process began with my development of a new practice research methodology – ‘Evaluative Performance’ – and its use within Coventry City of Culture 2021. It’s successful reception suggests potential, and this will be my project’s intellectual and practical focus. In particular, this research project will test ‘Evaluative Performance’ and its ability to evaluate impacts associated with intervention projects of various scales and disciplines. Specifically, how arts-based methods of data collection, analysis and dissemination can contribute to the need for valuing the voices of citizens in policymaking, and a variety of impact strategies.

‘Evaluative Performance’ is the use of headphone verbatim practice as a participatory way to capture the needs and experiences of those ‘on the ground’ that are hard to reach by policymakers and impact evaluators. A key unique identifier in this method, is the inclusion of the research participant in their own representation in performance. For reference, headphone verbatim is a sub-genre of verbatim theatre practice whereby ‘in both rehearsal and performance, the actors wear headphones, through which they hear the audio script. They then repeat that script as immediately and exactly as possible, including… every stammer, pause, and repetition’ (Wake, 2013).

Building on my own networks, I will run ‘Evaluative Performance’ investigations in three contrasting research settings: community theatre, engineering and computer science and equality and diversity initiatives.
Short titleInnovative Approaches to Evaluating Impact
Effective start/end date1/04/231/04/25

Collaborative partners

  • Coventry University (lead)
  • Royal Holloway, University of London (Project partner)
  • University of Amsterdam (Project partner)
  • EnergyREV


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