Modeling Evaluation Learning in Africa: The Case of Kenya Public Universities

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Modeling Evaluation Learning in Africa: The Case of Kenya Public Universities

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Kenya strives to achieve education for all to contribute to its development needs. Like other countries globally, Kenya's national education goals aim to educate its citizens to play important roles in the economy. To measure this trajectory on its citizens, evaluation has become a critical tool used by decision-makers to seek evidence and assist in making choices. Evaluation theory and practice should be realistic, credible, and accurate in providing evidence to stakeholders. It also must be efficient, effective, and reliable to all development systems and structures. However, with evaluation rooted in western paradigms and approaches, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Kenya dominate its demand and supply. The supply for evaluation in Kenya is fostered by Kenyan universities that facilitate training and learning of evaluation studies. At the same time, Kenya's education system (eight years of primary education, four years of secondary education, and four years of higher education) that is mainly government-funded has relied on summative evaluation as the standard measure of performance, grades and achievements. On the other hand, NGOs in Kenya practice both summative and formative evaluation; Kenyan evaluators often use evaluation practices and theories that are borrowed from outside Kenya. With the understanding that the NGO market is the major influence over the types of evaluations practiced in Kenya, this research aims to understand how Kenyan university-based evaluation study programs are conceptualized, developed, and implemented in Kenya. The year-long study focused on professors from six different Kenyan public universities on their understanding of how they conceptualize evaluation as an area of study in Kenya. The second research question focuses on the conditions that influence the development and implementation of evaluation studies, and the third question seeks what strategies and approaches are necessary to develop evaluative capacity in Kenya. The study entailed a qualitative research design utilizing a social constructivist grounded theory and semi-structured interviews with faculty informants. The primary findings of this study are as follows: (1) Participants viewed that evaluation studies programs varied across universities. For example, a number of universities had evaluation courses only at the undergraduate level, whereas some had courses at the graduate level. (2) There is a lack of support from the Kenyan government both in funding evaluation development and absorption of evaluation structures in government ministries and agencies. (3) When looking at conditions influencing evaluation growth in Kenya, participants shared that the SDGs are shaping evaluation education among Kenyans due to the need for accountability and development growth. (4) Study participants shared that to grow the field of evaluation in the Kenyan education system and development, there is a need to contextualize the field to better understand the benefits of evaluation. In other words, building evaluative capacity includes Kenya's cultural traditions and values. This study reveals the relational nature of Kenya's educational system, the influence of international development, and the needs of Kenyan citizens. Professors who teach evaluation in Kenya have an influence on all three relational aspects in shaping understanding, perspectives, and strategies to use evaluation for the greater development good. Subsequently, the findings of this research illustrate the limitations and promises of higher education as an avenue to shape development and grow the field of evaluation. This study concludes that there is a need for capacity building within the Kenyan government, institutions, universities, educators, and practitioners to use Kenyan knowledge and context to build and expand upon evaluation theories and practices. The emerging evaluative field of study requires collaboration and participation of all stakeholders when shaping knowledge and theories that are responsive to Kenyan needs.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2022. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: David Johnson. 1 computer file (PDF); xiii, 193 pages.

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Maikuri, Antony. (2022). Modeling Evaluation Learning in Africa: The Case of Kenya Public Universities. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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