CP TIG Week: Jim Altschuld on Observations on Evaluability Assessment from a Practitioner
I am Jim Altschuld, a Professor Emeritus from The Ohio State University. I know Joe Wholey (JW), the force behind EA, through attending 2 of his workshops and casual conversations. I at first did not view the concept positively, and argued with Joe. I viewed it as being too top-down in nature. Years later, I used part of EA in a national education center evaluation and had to admit that Joe was right on many aspects.
Observations from Utilization: The procedure makes project/program personnel think about what they are doing more deeply and leads to a logic model as JW showed via his studies. EA in my judgment may perhaps be better for large rather than small endeavors. It demands a lot of interviewees (basis of a program, inputs/activities, short and long term outcomes, indicators of same, and ways to concretely measure them). In regard to outcomes, indicators, and assessment, JW compared EA to climbing a 10 foot high wall. EA requires a lot of those conducting the process and doing the interviewing.
Lessons Learned / Hot Tips: Provide advance organizers (questions) for the interview (it is difficult for interviewees to answer questions about outcomes and measurement on the spot).
Allot sufficient time for analyzing and digesting the information obtained.
Give feedback to project staff as part of organizational learning and improvement, so they see EA as integral to organizational development.
Rad Resource: Involve multiple levels of a project, including service recipients, for defining outcomes and how they might be assessed (see the gun violence example in Altschuld, 2014, Bridging the Gap between Asset/Capacity Building and Needs Assessment).
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