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Evaluation 2013 Conference Week: Jane Davidson on Actionable Evaluation

Hello and kia ora, folks! I’m Jane Davidson, and I’m one of the pre-conference workshop facilitators at this year’s AEA conference in Washington DC.

Right now I just wrapped up Day 1 of a 2-day workshop called Actionable Evaluation: Getting succinct answers to the most important questions. Wow, we have great group in there, and they are brimming with really good questions!

Lessons Learned: Some of the stuff we talked about today:

  • How to rewrite non-evaluative questions so they are explicitly evaluative (i.e., they ask not just “what happened?” but “was it any good?”). This was harder than it looked, I think, but we had some fun with it!
  • My Key Evaluation Question “Cheat Sheet”, which workshop participants can tweak to create an easy set of high-level questions for their own evaluations. This will help them avoid getting lost in the details!
  • How to develop evaluative rubrics, which you can use to interpret quantitative, qualitative, and mixed method evidence. Some fantastic follow-up questions for this.

Hot Tips: From today’s Q & A:

  • Rubrics can be used for independent or participatory evaluation. If you go participatory, shoot for 3 to 10 participants; any more and it takes ages!
  • When constructing rubrics, 4 to 6 levels of performance is usually about right. If you use too many you are imposing a level of precision that simply doesn’t exist in the underlying construct in the real world.
  • Need to do a lit review but haven’t got the budget? Call 2 or 3 leading gurus on the topic and ask them for a quick live “brain dump” by phone or Skype. Cheap, quick, and credible!

Rad Resources: Related conference sessions:

Rad Resource: Key resource for the workshop:

Actionable Evaluation Basics Jane’s e-minibook; also available in Spanish as Principios Básicos de la Evaluación para la Acción (translated by the awesome Pablo Rodriguez-Bilella) – coming soon in French (translated by Ghislain Arbour)!

Actionable cover

Actionable cover Spanish - for web


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