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

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Hello aea365-ers! Sheila B Robinson here, your Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor with some Hot Tips, Cool Tricks and one really Rad Resource – our AEA Public eLibrary!

Rad Resource: The AEA Public eLibrary, under the “read” menu on our main site at eval.org is a fabulous resource for evaluation-related content. I’ve always been impressed with our association’s generous offering of evaluation resources to members and non-members alike, and the Public eLibrary is one of my favorites.

Hot Tip: Now is a great time to look for your favorite presenter’s materials whether from Evaluation 2017, a recent Coffee Break webinar, AEA Summer Institute, or even an event from years ago. Perhaps you’re just looking for something new to add to your knowledge base or inform your work around a specific evaluation-related topic.

Of the 2276 current entries, over 30 have been added since Evaluation 2017, and materials are added year-round.

Hotter Tip: Advanced search options. Try searching using advanced search options which allows you to search for materials by:

  • term / keyword / phrase
  • posted since date or posted before date
  • author’s first or last name
  • company name or email address
  • specific tags or keyword
  • event
  • topical interest group (TIG)

Cool Trick: Author’s names are hyperlinks to their profiles where you can often see what they do, where they work, and access any other other materials they have contributed to the library.

Cooler Trick: Since users can create their own tags, not all of the conference-related content is necessarily in one category. Try searching “AEA 2017” along with “Evaluation 2017” and even “#Eval17.”

Lesson Learned: In this library, no one will ask you to be quiet, there are no late fees, and food and drink are welcome all the time!

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.

Hello! We are Libby Smith and Levi Roth. We are both Project Managers at the Applied Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. We recently wrapped up work on the largest project of our professional lives. The INTERFACE Project included all 16 Wisconsin Technical Colleges and as you can guess each college had a diverse project team with different communication needs. This 4-year grant required constant communication with project teams on a variety of levels whether it was communicating data requirements, project updates, documentation requests, etc. We learned a lot about effective communication with a large stakeholder community and we want to share some hot tips we have learned with you!

Hot Tips:

  • Webinars and Conference Calls are your friends. With stakeholders in every corner of the state, holding regular meetings virtually was critical to ensuring everyone was on the same page. We met twice yearly face-to-face, but taking the time to communicate information “in-person” via webinars and conference calls helped build relationships and ensured everyone had an opportunity to ask questions about complicated data gathering guidelines. This way we could answer the question for the entire group in a concise manner, plus we were able to record and archive our conversations.
  • FAQs and standardized templates are powerful tools. We quickly realized how important it was to create a standardized way of doing things that is adopted by everyone involved. When working with a variety of stakeholders they may be reporting the same information but collecting it in different ways. Templates were a necessity and FAQ’s cleared up questions quickly. You help alleviate confusion with a common document that helps walk through questions or issues without filling up your email inbox.
  • Build relationships with your clients. This idea may seem obvious, but in our busy schedules can often be overlooked. In conjunction with our regularly scheduled webinars and conference calls, we made it a priority to also meet with our stakeholders at their college twice a year. We felt like these meetings were so crucial to building and maintaining healthy client relationships over the course of the project. It improved buy-in and commitment. Your clients might also begin to view your webinars and conference calls as welcomed constructive conversations instead of nuisances.

These are just a few hot tips we wanted to share to help improve other’s client communications or at the very least, have you start thinking about the level of effective communication you have with your clients. Let us know if you have any additional hot tips for effective communication!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! Week with our colleagues in the Wisconsin statewide AEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! members. 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.

Hi! My name is Monique Liston, Chief Strategic Officer at Ubuntu Research and Evaluation. I am a race liberation strategist and evaluator based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

As 2016 came to a close, I found myself at a professional crossroads, nearing the end of writing my dissertation and reevaluating my work prospects. I reached out to several friends and colleagues who have always held my professional identity in high regard to contemplate my next moves. Many people offered ideas of positions within institutions such as universities, foundations, or nonprofits that would be opening soon or could possibly be created to nurture my skill set.

However, the timing for these opportunities did not coincide with my needs. I took a leap of faith and decided to build my own consulting firm. I decided that I wanted to build a space for research and evaluation that celebrated Black Women as having unique professional skillsets, being knowledge creators celebrating what Patricia Hill Collins termed “Afrocentric Feminist Epistemology”, and deserving to be compensated fully for what they bring to the table. Here are three hot tips for supporting a space for Black women to direct and design evaluation.

Hot Tips:

  • Meditate on Dr. Vincent J. Harding’s The Vocation of the Black Scholar. There are many Black women who have written about the unique contributions that Black scholars provide to scholastic endeavors. However, Harding’s article very clears out the tensions that reside between Black liberation ideologies and the work of scholars in the academy. As evaluators, we have a responsibility to consider how we can uplift beloved community through our evaluation practice.
  • Embed written reflection during every formal opportunity.We know that Black women’s voices are often marginalized in professional spaces. Joan Morgan explains one of the reasons this happens, particularly around practitioners is because of the “superwoman complex”. Black women, being too busy doing, and not spending enough time processing their work through written reflection. To combat that, all of us at Ubuntu are responsible for writing monthly for our blog.
  • Build intentional spaces for decompression.Last, but of course, not least, we spend considerable time in our meeting spaces for decompression. We do verbal, written, and artistic check-ins to support one another. We allow others to witness our intentionality around decompressing white supremacist thinking, microaggressions, and misogynoir. We develop a short decompression guide — for laughs — but it holds significant truths to the way we work at Ubuntu!

A year later, I am reflecting on what this organization – Ubuntu Research and Evaluation – has become. We are freedom fighters for hire. We use frameworks of Building Beloved Community and Black Liberation to define our work. We are serving as an intellectual vanguard for evaluating programs and projects that aim to improve the outcomes of Black children and families.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! Week with our colleagues in the Wisconsin statewide AEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! members. 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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Hello! My name is Libby Smith, I work at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where I am fortunate enough to work in evaluation in multiple capacities. Today I’d like to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned from being a member of ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! First, Nicole Robinson and the rest of the executive board are tireless promoters of our mission both in and outside of our state. They have truly taught me the value of building connections across long distances and being part of a network that shares a common goal. Second, I have learned that infusing social justice into my work is not optional or occasional.

Lessons Learned:

From participating in webinars on using racial equity in evaluation to participating in last spring’s Social Justice and Evaluation Conference, the professional development I have received as a member has been consistent, effective, and incredibly valuable to my growth as an evaluator. I was honored to be asked to present an Eval 101 session at the spring conference, but the lessons learned through listening to the people who attended my session were incredibly valuable.  The organization’s commitment to promoting social justice within evaluation sets it apart from the other groups that I belong to.

My connection to ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! led to the most professionally satisfying work of my career. In 2015, I began collaborating with the Annie E. Casey Foundation as they established the Leaders in Equitable Evaluation and Diversity (LEEAD) program, an effort to increase the number of underrepresented evaluators of color, a mission directly aligned with our goals. Through our Graduate Certificate in Evaluation Studies, we provide evaluation training to the early-career scholars in the LEEAD program. I am so proud of the work that we are doing, knowing that we are exponentially expanding our ability to bring change to the field of evaluation and to the communities we work in as evaluators.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! Week with our colleagues in the Wisconsin statewide AEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! members. 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.

Hi! We are Nicole Robinson, Emily Connors, Kate Westaby, Tiffine Cobb, and Elise Ahn and we’re board members of ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! Inc., the Wisconsin statewide AEA affiliate. As an affiliate and professional development collaborative of Wisconsin-based evaluators, we have three goals:

  • To promote the science of evaluation
  • Provide networking and capacity building opportunities
  • Develop a pipeline of evaluators from underrepresented groups

In the past few years we have focused on field building initiatives centered around building the capacity of evaluators to incorporate culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) and social justice into their practice. We see this goal as paramount to create a thriving field ready to respond to the evaluation needs of a multicultural world. This past year, during our flagship event, the Social Justice & Evaluation conference, is where we promoted this work. We provided CRE 101 sessions in addition to sessions helping evaluators address “isms” during the evaluation process from start to finish, how to assess what the current political climate can impact evaluation and the people we serve, or how social justice can be infused into practices such as results-based accountability.

Lessons Learned:

We recently administered a survey to Wisconsin evaluators and asked them about how much they use CRE. The full results will be shared in the future, but we can share a couple points for discussion. For example, 57% of evaluators who responded to the survey have never reviewed AEA’s statement on cultural competence and 37% had no formal training on cultural competence. The open-ended responses provided a richer picture of evaluation in Wisconsin. While we are still analyzing this data, we wanted to share one quote that captures the complexity of this discussion, linking the absence of CRE to stagnant outcomes among other areas:

“It is all about power and money. The same folks are getting the same grants or contracts and conduct evaluations in the same way. It isn’t rocket science why some of the same chronic outcomes and poor quality of life has not changed. Evaluation and research studies need to be built differently by different people. If we keep producing basically the same monolithic group of academics how will things ever change? This is embedded in the systems and institutions of education, policy, procurement, political, and monetary practices. People who educate the next generation of academics and award contracts, grants, keynotes, or presidential sessions MUST be held accountable for structurally ensuring and requiring diversity in curricular content, human resources, funding priorities, contract/grant awards, keynotes, publications, etc. or things won’t change.”

Stayed tuned for more this week from our Wisconsin evaluators!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! Week with our colleagues in the Wisconsin statewide AEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! members. 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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Greetings dear aea365 readers! I’m Sheila B Robinson, aea365 Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor. Today we close Evaluation 2017 and wrap up another extraordinary experience for conference-goers — and not just those who tirelessly traversed the labyrinthian walkways of the Marriott Wardman, but also those who live-streamed sessions from across the globe, and who both shared and consumed the tremendous wealth of collective learning from hundreds of esteemed evaluation colleagues on social media platforms.

Hot Tip: If you are not yet tweeting, please consider this as one platform for serious professional learning and networking. I’ve kept a list of over 550 evaluators on Twitter (and I’m certain there are many, many more out there). If you’re concerned about having to sift through what today’s pop culture celebrity is having for breakfast to get to the content you want, think again. YOU choose* you what you see by carefully selecting who to follow. Interested yet? Look for the many aea365 posts contributed by our AEA Community Manager, Jayne Corso, with great tips, tricks, and how-tos.

Cool Trick: Did you present a session this year? Want t0 extend your reach and share your content? Please post something – a handout, document, other relevant material – in the AEA Public eLibrary (it’s under “Read” on the main website menu) so that others can continue to learn from you.

Cooler trick: Did you present OR attend a great session this year? Please consider sharing your learning in an aea365 post! It’s easy – just a few paragraphs and you’ve got it! Our max word count is 500, and other contribution guidelines are here.

Hottest Tip of All Time**: If you have not yet attended an AEA Annual Conference, either in-person or virtually, please do! Ask anyone who has attended. I’ve yet to encounter someone who hasn’t felt it was worth every penny. The sessions, the networking, the socializing…meeting not only fellow evaluators, but also friends, and to many of us in a sense, family. After all, AEA is “home” for so many of us. Might it become your home as well?

A brief message from your blog curator: I am so grateful for all who approached me this week to tell me how much they enjoy and appreciate this daily blog, and I feel indebted to the friends who did outreach work for me by fervently encouraging others to contribute. All kudos belong to the hundreds of authors who have contributed over the years to make this the fabulous evaluation learning resource that it is. 

-Sheila

*OK, there are a few promoted ad tweets you’ll see, but not too many, so don’t let that sway you.

**And I would never in a million years exaggerate. 😉

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.

Hi my name is Jayne Corso and I am the Community Manager for AEA. Evaluation 2017 officially kicked-off yesterday! And, we had a great start with the opening plenary session from AEA president Kathy Newcomer. In her presentation, Kathy discussed the challenges evaluators are facing and how we can overcome those challenges to push evaluation and the evaluation profession forward.

Looking at the twitter response on #Eval17, her message was heard loud and clear. I want to share just a few of the conversations that were taking place online.

We look forward to more great plenary sessions! Keep tweeting.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on theaea365 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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Hi everyone, I’m Leslie Goodyear, and I’m honored to be the president-elect of AEA. In my spare time, I work at Education Development Center (EDC) where I design, conduct and oversee evaluations of education programs.

I’ve been a member of AEA since 1995, and this year will be my 22nd AEA conference. It’s always an exciting week, filled with reunions with AEA “family” and friends, great learning experiences, new connections, and a reminder of the diversity and depth in our field.

As you know, each conference has a theme; this year’s theme is “From Learning to Action.” AEA president Kathy Newcomer and her program committee have developed some terrific opportunities for participants to engage with this topic through the video submissions, the presidential strand sessions, “tracks” in the program, virtual sessions, and more. I have no doubt that we will come away from this meeting inspired and energized to think about our own work in new ways.

As president-elect, one of my main responsibilities was to think about and develop the theme for Evaluation 2018. I have to say, this was a daunting task! To start, I spent quite a bit of time poking around EvalTalk and other evaluation forums; looking at journals, books, and previous conference themes and programs; and listening to evaluators from all walks of the evaluation field.

What did I learn? As evaluators, though we collaborate and advocate, we value our independence. We ply our trade, such as it is, in data. Facts matter to us; we seek to understand and to share that understanding with stakeholders. We endeavor to contribute to knowledge, improve programs, make a better world.

So what’s the theme already, Goodyear? Oh, right! All this rooting around resulted in the theme for Evaluation 2018: Speaking Truth to Power. (Cue the trumpets!)

The onsite program for Evaluation 2017 has a description of the theme, where I elaborate how we might explore it together throughout 2018, and in Cleveland at the annual conference.

This last year has been exciting, interesting and an amazing learning experience.  I can’t wait to see you all in Washington, DC and to hear your ideas for how we can move From Learning to Action into Speaking Truth to Power!

Rad Resources: Here are the Evaluation 2018 Theme Graphic and Evaluation 2018 Theme Text advertising Evaluation 2018 that appear on the back page of the Evaluation 2017 onsite program.

Rad Resources: Learn more about the origins of the phrase “Speak Truth to Power.”  And read the American friends Service Committee publication here.

And get ready for CLEVELAND, OH for Evaluation 2018!!

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.

I am David Bernstein, CEO of DJB Evaluation Consulting and Past-President of Washington Evaluators, the DC-based local AEA affiliate, and the Evaluation 2017 Conference Co-chair.

I have a career-long commitment to volunteering as a Red Cross volunteer (CPR instructor, blood donor), a Board member with Washington Evaluators, and a frequent volunteer with AEA. Giving back is a gift to me because I learn so much and get to expand my leadership skills.

I have been a volunteer for the AEA annual conference nearly every year it has been held, and am a member of the AEA Conference Working Group. While the AEA staff do a remarkable amount of work to pull the AEA conference together, it is the membership that pull the conference together. Most frequently I have volunteered to review conference proposals as part of the Topical Interest Group (TIG) review process, which establish the conference strands.

Lesson Learned: It was through my role as a TIG Chair that I had the honor of knowing and learning from Bob Ingle, who was the AEA Annual Conference Chair for the first 10 years of the AEA conference. As Jean King so eloquently described him, “Bob Ingle knew how to put on a conference.” (See her post, Memorial Week: Jean King on Remembering Bob Ingle (1926-1998), Pioneer in establishing the annual AEA conference”). What did I learn about volunteering for AEA and the AEA Conference from Bob Ingle? A lot, and I was not alone. AEA named its Service Award after Bob Ingle!

In 2002 and 2013 I had the honor of serving as AEA Conference Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG) Co-chair. What I learned was that the most important role of the LAWG co-chairs is to recruit other volunteers. In 2013 my fellow LAWG Co-chair Valerie Caracelli (a Robert Ingle Service Award winner) and I worked with a group of over 70 volunteers from Washington Evaluators to provide local information about DC and help with conference planning and logistics.

Rad Resource: The 2017 LAWG Co-chairs, Giovanni Dazzo and Jonathan Jones, have been working with a large number of volunteers on several initiatives for the Conference. Stop by the “Ask Me About DC” table to say hi to a friendly volunteer or two who can give you all sorts of interesting information about the DC area.

For Evaluation 2017 I had the honor of working with Kathy Newcomer, our 2017 AEA President, and a diverse group of volunteers on Kathy’s Conference Program Committee. A group of 17 of us worked with Kathy to develop the conference theme and subthemes, coordinate with the TIGs, assemble the Presidential Strand, identify plenary session speakers, and help Kathy in a variety of other ways. Susan Tucker (AEA’s Treasurer, another important volunteer position), Donna Podems (a former AEA Board Member), and I served as the Conference Program Co-chairs.

Hot Tip: Want to be an AEA volunteer? Check the AEA Volunteer Opportunities page, and find something in which you are interested. You too can make a difference in AEA, and in the evaluation profession.

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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Greetings!   This is Nicole Vicinanza, Senior Research Associate at JBS International and a conference co-chair of the AEA 2017 Presidential Strand committee.  Our AEA president Kathy Newcomer and the members of this committee have worked together for over a year to develop the theme – From Learning to Action! You’ll find 29 exciting and thought-provoking sessions delivered by evaluation leaders and innovators around four conference sub-themes:

  • Learning to Enhance Evaluation Practices
  • Learning What Works and Why
  • Learning from Others
  • Learning about Evaluation Users and Uses

In addition, if you can’t be there in person, many of these sessions will be offered free through the virtual conference. Here are my tips to make the most of the AEA 2017 theme and the presidential strand:

Hot Tip:  Use the Challenge Questions to organize your learning.  Uncover and use the Challenge questions to get ready for the conference! Go to the AEA web page on From Learning to Action  and click on each of the sub-themes to see challenge questions for you to consider as you attend sessions at AEA 2017.    Think about which questions you’d like to get answers for.

Cool Trick: Use the mobile app or on-line conference program to pick sessions related to your sub-themes.   Look for your invitation to download the mobile app.  If you click on a session in the mobile app schedule, and scroll down to the 2017 Theme tag, you can see the sub-theme that session addresses.  In the on-line program, select a sub-theme you are interested in in the “Theme” search box to see all the conference sessions that relate to that sub-theme. You can narrow your choices by picking a TIG or “Presidential Strand” in the “Track” search box.  Consider the sub-themes as you choose which sessions to attend.

Hot Tip:  Get the big picture- attend the Plenary Sessions.  This year four plenary sessions will explore ways that our community can learn from evaluation to create better practices and outcomes.  (Bonus: Each session will also feature a winning video from our 2017 Video Contest.)

Rad Resource: Just can’t be there? Attend virtually. The conference has so many great offerings and opportunities to connect- you should be there in person if you can!  But if you can’t, you can participate in over 20 sessions of the Presidential Strand, free, through the virtual conference.  You and your colleagues can view the Virtual Conference Sessions and register now at https://aea.digitellinc.com/aea/live/6.

I’m looking forward to all the learning possibilities at AEA 2017!   I’m particularly excited about the sub-theme Learning to Enhance Evaluation Practices and attending sessions on “Adopting Economic Cost-Effectiveness Analyses to Enhance Evaluation Practices” and “Checklists to Activate Learning and Improve Evaluation Practice.”  What are you looking forward to?

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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