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GEDI Week: Dani Rae Gorman and Angela Nancy Mendoza on Creating Value and Utility: Engaging Stakeholders throughout the Evaluation Process

Hello, we are Dani Rae Gorman and Angela Nancy Mendoza, former scholars of the AEA Graduate Diversity Education Internship (GEDI) program 2015-2016 cohort. We’d like to share some of our lessons learned throughout the program in engaging stakeholders from the inception and throughout the process of evaluation.

Lessons Learned:

Consistent Engagement

Evaluation phases change over a project’s life, and it is important to include stakeholders at each step. In many cases, stakeholders help to plan what they want, but are less involved with tasks such as helping to understand what the data mean and assisting in creating an effective way to communicate these findings. Having the right people involved from the beginning and keeping them involved throughout the evaluation are critical to the process. It increases the evaluation’s accuracy, appropriateness and utility. For example, having evaluation stakeholders involved in the interpretation of results to ensure the evaluators are getting the right message and are aware of important nuances.

Creating Value and Utility

In conducting relevant and accurate evaluations, it is important to understand the cultural context and communities in which the evaluation is to be carried out. Consideration and responsiveness to these factors help to ensure that an evaluation captures nuances and specific needs to help create an evaluation product that is accurate and useful to stakeholders.

Identifying and Engaging a Diversity of Stakeholders

Engaging stakeholders requires the identification of those whom the evaluation will impact. This includes program staff, managers, project leaders, clients, community members, and other stakeholders who may be affected by the evaluation findings. Engaging a diversity of stakeholders aides in creating an understanding of the identity being evaluated, its members and its culture. This in turn helps to ensure that informative questions are asked in the right way and that the outcomes are meaningful and useful to stakeholders.

Hot Tip:

Be patient and flexible in working to engage stakeholders through the evaluation process. It can be a challenge to facilitate engagement throughout the stages of an evaluation and individuals may have different experiences, perspectives, and responsibilities, but consistent engagement can create added value and utility of evaluation findings.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s GEDI Program and its interns. For more information on GEDI, see their webpage here: http://www.eval.org/GEDI 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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2 comments

  • Angela Contrada · March 18, 2017 at 12:21 am

    Hello Dani and Angela,
    I am a Professional Master’s student at Queen’s university and have a question about the end point in an elevators job. Your article does a great job addressing discusses the ways elevators engage during the evaluation process, but I am wondering what your suggestion is for after the evaluation process. In your opinion, at what point is the elevator’s job done? And does this add to the validity and unity you describe in your post.

    Thanks and I look forward to hearing a response.

    Reply

  • Pierre Legal · November 13, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    Hello Dani and Angela,

    My name is Pierre Legal and I am a graduate student within the Professional Master in Education program at Queen’s University. I am brand new to program evaluation and I am currently enrolled in a Program Inquiry and Evaluation class. Being new to program evaluation and its theories I have greatly benefitted from the “Lessons Learned”, “Hot Tips” and “Rad Resources” from the AEA365 website. What better way to learn than from those that have been there before!

    Recently, I read your post on “Creating Value and Utility: Engaging Stakeholders throughout the evaluation process”. I find a lot of worth in engaging the stakeholders within program evaluations as they hold a lot of knowledge about the programs being evaluated and they might even be able to offer incredible insight about potential improvements to programing. As you mentioned, if stakeholders are engaged in the evaluation process, the usefulness of the evaluation increases. You also mentioned the importance of knowing the stakeholders themselves as well as the communities in which the evaluation in taking place. I agree that the better you know the stakeholders the more likely they will see use within the evaluation. Lastly, I was happy to read that patience and flexibility are important virtues when engaging with stakeholders during the evaluation process. Their input, ideas and perspectives are valuable and essential to the process of evaluation.

    Your “Rad Resources” as well as your insights have been very useful and have led me to explore a wide variety of different resources on how to engage stakeholders within the evaluation process. Thanks again for sharing your experiences and knowledge.

    Sincerely,
    Pierre Legal

    P.S. In your experience, has there ever been a situation where the stakeholder’s engagement was not useful?

    Reply

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