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What Is “Appreciative Inquiry”?

Posted by on July 23rd, 2008 Posted in: Research Reads

Christie, C.A. “Appreciative inquiry as a method for evaluation: an interview with Hallie Preskill.”  American Journal of Evaluation. Dec 2006. 27(4): 466-474.

In this interview, Preskill defines appreciative inquiry as “…a process that builds on past successes (and peak experiences) in an effort to design and implement future actions.” (p. 466)  She points out that when we look for problems we find them and this deficit-based approach can lead to feelings of powerlessness.  In appreciative inquiry the focus is on what has worked well, and use of affirmative and strengthening language improves morale.  She suggests a focus on the positive through interviews asking for descriptions of “peak experiences” that led to feelings of being energized and hopeful; asking for information about what is valued most.  She cautions that skeptics will find this to be a “Pollyanna” approach that lacks scientific rigor.

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