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

Dec/11

11

WMU Week: Brandy Brown on Evaluation to Benefit the Public Good

I’m Brandy Brown, a doctoral candidate in the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Ph.D. in Evaluation at Western Michigan University. Although my research interests do not focus on cultural or social issues, I have found that remaining in touch with these topics nourishes my passion for evaluation. My professional purpose is rooted in my life experiences as a woman, a mother, and a person of color. It was in this vein that I attended Dr. Rodney Hopson’s lecture at WMU on Evaluation & Public Good: Toward Whose Good, Whose Benefit, and What End?

This lecture was part of the Visiting Scholar Series sponsored by Western Michigan University’s Evaluation Center, Interdisciplinary PhD in Evaluation, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and College of Education and Human Development. During his visit, Dr. Hopson gave public talks in which he addressed the role of evaluation in advancing the public good and the incorporation of social justice in academia. Additionally, Dr. Hopson participated in a panel discussion with Dr. Daniel Stufflebeam regarding the revised program evaluation standards and their implications on the field. During this week on aea365, my colleagues will elaborate on Dr. Hopson’s activities as Visiting Scholar.

Dr. Hopson’s visit reminded me of the reason I sought an education in evaluation: To benefit the public good. He spoke of questioning the relevance of evaluation to current social reforms. Toward whose good does evaluation serve? Toward whose benefit does evaluation work? Toward what end does evaluation function? Dr. Hopson highlighted the need for evaluators to examine ourselves and our field in this light by rediscovering our collective purpose. Correspondingly, he stressed that practicing evaluation carries with it civic and moral responsibilities.

Lesson Learned: Evaluation has the potential to change behaviors, knowledge, actions, policies, and organizations. If implemented properly, evaluation can be powerful and positive. As evaluators, we are responsible for not only recognizing, but also communicating the potential impacts of evaluation. We should ask of ourselves and our professional legacy Toward Whose Good, Whose Benefit, and What End?

Rad Resource:  Dr. Hopson’s Presentation on Evaluation and the Public Good

Dr. Hopson’s lecture is available through the web library of The Evaluation Center’s Evaluation Café. http://vimeo.com/32259097

Rad Resource:  Community Evaluation and Resource Collaborative (CERC)

The CERC is a department at Michigan State University that provides training in evaluation and community-based participatory research, conducts evaluations, and partners with other organizations and institutions to advance community work. CERC’s website provides a list of resources available for community work. http://outreach.msu.edu/cerc/resources/skills.aspx

All this week, we’re highlighting posts from colleagues at Western Michigan University as they reflect on a recent visit from incoming AEA President Rodney Hopson. 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. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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1 comment

  • Patricia Rogers · December 12, 2011 at 1:29 am

    Rodney Hopson’s presentation is very timely, and I look forward to sharing it with my colleagues.

    Evaluation can be done for the public good on behalf of the public or by the public. There are increasing numbers of the latter, including the use of citizen report cards and citizen report cards. I was also reminded of a pioneering citizen’s evaluation undertaken by Bob Briggs in the 1990 at the Harvard Extension School, “A Citizen’s Evaluation of Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment Program in Taunton, Massachusetts.”

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