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

Oct/15

24

Chi Yan Lam on Starting a TIG on Program Design

Curator’s note: Hi! Sheila B Robinson here, aea365’s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor. My Saturday posts are often about AEA and today, I’m pleased to share a guest post authored by my friend Chi Yan Lam introducing AEA’s newest Topical Interest Group (TIG). 

Hello! I am Chi Yan Lam (Queen’s), writing on behalf of the Program Design TIG (PD-TIG). The PD-TIG was founded by 50+ like-minded AEA colleagues in 2014 to provide a forum for exploring the theory and practice of program design. As we prepare to host our first sessions at the 2015 AEA conference, I’d like to share what has motivated the group this far to start a Topical Interest Group on program design.

Our interest in organizing the PD-TIG grew out of a casual conversation. We (Karen Widmer, Terence Fitzgerald, and I) realized that we each held responsibilities for program design in our respective practice. We were inspired by the potential for infusing evaluative thinking and evidence into program development, and in doing so, evaluators might further contribute to clients’ goals of developing robust, impactful programs. However, even among ourselves, we had differing perspectives on what this might look like in practice. As a group, we were inspired by Gargani and Donaldson’s work on program design, Patton’s work on developmental evaluation, and more generally, writing on theory-driven evaluation. We said to ourselves: Wouldn’t it be great if we could get together with others who might share our passion and curiosity about program design?

Hot Tip:  TIGs offer many opportunities to members within the American Evaluation Society. Here are a few that appealed to us:

  • TIGs provides a recognizable “home” for like-minded individuals to connect over over matters of professional
  • TIGs can take advantage of the AEA TIG membership web platform to connect members to one another.
  • TIGs serve as a primary vehicle for organizing and sponsoring conference sessions, allowing for formal opportunities on the conference program.

Lessons Learned:  Starting a TIG is a lengthy but fulfilling process. To gauge whether there was sufficient interest among the membership on program design, we organized a Think Tank session at AEA 2013. As we watched the room filled, we knew we were on to something. As a group, we explored what ‘program design’ meant to one another. We also asked attendees to envision what a TIG on program design could do for its membership. Following the meeting, we compiled the input from which we built our petition to the board.

Rad Resource:  The American Evaluation Association provides a set of guidelines for initiating a TIG on its web site.

Hot Tip: The Program Design TIG provides a forum to advance exploration in the theory and practice of program design. We also sponsor a track at the AEA annual conference. Be sure to check out the PD-TIG sessions this November!

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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