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

Jan/10

31

Jim Dudley on Letting Go of Rigid Adherence to What Evaluation Should Look Like

My name is Jim Dudley and I am a faculty member at UNC Charlotte. Currently, when I conduct evaluations, I tend to conduct small community evaluations that have a social justice component.

Hot Tip: Recently, in working with a board of directors of a grassroots organization, I was reminded of how important it is to “let go” of rigid adherence to typologies and other traditional notions of what an evaluation should look like. For example, I completed an evaluation that incorporated elements of all of the stages of program development – a needs assessment (e.g., how much do board members know about their programs and budget), a process evaluation (e.g., how well do the board members communicate with each other when they meet), and an outcome evaluation (e.g., how effective is their marketing plan for recruiting children and families for its programs). The instruments that were created by the evaluator and a small team of board members were both quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative instrument supplied broad indicators of how well the board was functioning (e.g., most members reported that it was unrealistic for them to succeed in raising funds). The qualitative instrument was most helpful in opening up a discussion of how new structures were needed for more effective board functioning (e.g., the executive committee needed to meet a week or so before board meetings to insure broad participation and productivity among all board members). All of the results were helpful and utilized, and the instruments did not have to be labeled as having one overall purpose.

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

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