AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Jan/15

18

Bloggers Week: Wendy L. Tackett on Carpe Diem

I’m Wendy Tackett, the president of iEval, a part-time faculty member at Western Michigan University, and a new blogger in 2014.

Rad Resource – Carpe Diem: Make Your Evaluations Useful! Three of my iEval colleagues and I started this weekly blog last June primarily to help evaluators make their evaluations more useful.

Hot Tips – Favorite posts: Here are some of our most referenced posts to date, listed chronologically:

  • Week 5: Using a ‘Top of the Mind Memo’ – Sometimes even interim reports can be too cumbersome, so timely, relevant feedback presented in a short format can be very useful as a check point for clients.
  • Week 16: Avoiding misuse: The evaluation client’s perspective – While most of our readers seem to be evaluators, it’s helpful to step back and think from the client perspective at times.
  • Week 18: Miss America: The nation’s largest scholarship program for women – Evaluation really is all around us, and this comical perspective on creating a logic model reminds us of this, while also reminding us to humanize the work we are doing.
  • Week 20: I was at the European Evaluation Society Biennial Conference – It’s always enlightening to listen to Michael Scriven and try to apply his ideas to your own work.

Lessons Learned – Why I blog: My focus has always been the meaningful use of evaluation findings. I don’t do evaluation for the sake of research, to merely fulfill funder requirements, or to have my work never to be used. I want clients to benefit from the work and use it to make improvements and decisions. The Carpe Diem blog is one way to help others achieve that. I also provide evaluation training by teaching graduate students in evaluation, presenting at conferences, and serving on the Michigan Association for Evaluation board…all with the purpose of helping others practically apply their high quality evaluation findings.

Lessons Learned – What I’ve learned: First, it’s been great using the team approach – we share ideas with each other and build off of each other’s work. It takes the weekly burden off of one person and lets the readers benefit from multiple perspectives. Second, the online interaction with readers hasn’t been what we expected. Most of our feedback is direct – emails, conferences, personal contact. While we may not get regular, immediate feedback on each post, we’ve gotten enough to think we’re resonating with some people and encourage us to continue!

Hot Tip – I think a good post is a mix of information, usefulness, and fun. We try to share useful information, provide tips that can immediately be used, and end with a silly picture of the blogger that week – just to remind people to have fun with evaluation!

This winter, we’re continuing our occasional series highlighting evaluators who blog. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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