When Florence Howe was in Portland last winter on her Advisory Council project to review women's studies programs, she made the distinction between a review and an evaluation: a review seeks information that can be quantified, an evaluation presupposes a standard against which a program may be judged.
Had I been more than just casually aware of the distinction last spring when, with another woman, I set out under the auspices of the Northwest Women Studies Association (NWWSA) to review a local community college's women's studies offerings, I might have "done" differently. I am not sure, however, which is one reason for sharing with other women's studies people an account of my first experience as a "program consultant" (as you will note, terminology and practice both become confused) and some reflections on what it was like to be a consultant whose work was in turn reviewed. As women's studies goes about developing and implementing models for program assessment, for internal (self-study) and external (review or evaluation) purposes, some aspects of my experience may serve as an alert to problems in the process that I do not believe are only semantic. The following, it should be understood, presents background material considered useful. Observations and interpretations are my own and may not represent the views of anyone else involved, including my coconsultant. The report itself is the property of the reviewed institution.