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

Sep/14

25

LAWG Week: Maggie Miller on Teaching Evaluation in the Denver Area

Hello, I am Maggie Miller, the principal of Maggie Miller Consulting. I conduct program evaluation for nonprofits in the Denver/Boulder area. Welcome to Colorado! We Coloradoans tend to be very friendly; when you meet us at Evaluation 2014, we will be very happy to share any information about Colorado that we can.

Coloradoans also like to learn about evaluation. When I’m not consulting, I teach various evaluation classes and workshops in the greater Metro Denver area. There are many opportunities for program staff in nonprofits (and the private sector) to learn about evaluation. These are a few organizations that I’ve taught for: the Colorado Nonprofit Association, the Nonprofit Cultivation Center, Mountain States Employers Council, the Nonprofit Management program at Regis University, and Denver Evaluation Network (DEN), which is for Denver-area museums and cultural institutions. The staff at the Denver Public Library system were very receptive to a series of evaluation planning classes I gave, and once I even presented a logic modeling workshop for the HR department New Belgium Brewery. Hey, everyone can benefit from thinking about outcomes!

(P.S.: While I’ve never taught for them, I should mention that there are some large evaluation firms in town that offer excellent training to our evaluation-oriented Coloradoans.)

Lessons Learned: Anyone can learn about evaluation and improve their skills. It’s important to keep these teaching tips in mind.

  • Assess where your students “are at” in terms of their experience and existing skills (which may include evaluation-related things like teaching, research, project management, and facilitation).
  • For any given teaching opportunity, figure out what’s most important to teach. Keep your lesson focused on a few important ideas which they will remember and use, rather than giving them an overwhelming smorgasbord.
  • Facilitate hands-on interactive activities to help people engage deeply with new ideas.
  • Use examples that are relevant to your students, and encourage them to apply what they learn to their professional (and even personal) lives.
  • Whenever possible, get them to review what they learned. This is easier in multi-session workshops or classes, but you can still do it before and after breaks in a one-time workshop.

Hot Tip: Some of the places I’ve taught are great resources for you when you are in town! Check out Denver’s wonderful DEN-participating museums, our fabulous public library, and taste some great New Belgium beer at many restaurants and bars in the Denver area.

We’re looking forward to October and the Evaluation 2014 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

 

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