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Sheila B Robinson on A Sure Cure for Evaluation Isolation

Hello fellow evaluators! I’m Sheila B Robinson, aea365’s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor, and I have to admit, I get lonely sometimes. After all, I’m the only program evaluator in my organization. Sure, there are other people who collect and analyze data, but no one who can sit down with me over lunch and discuss logic models, debate the merits of using a goal-based or goal-free  approach, prattle on about program theory, or compare favorite theorists on the Evaluation Theory Tree. Where’s the eHarmony or Match.com for evaluators?

Thankfully, I have several options for going virtual to enjoy some good evaluation camaraderie. Strictly platonic, of course.

Rad Resources: EvalTalk is the discussion list of the American Evaluation Association. It’s a listserv that has been going since 1995! There are many active members and many, many more readers. Discussions can get quite heavy and theoretical at times, and many contributors write lengthy responses to questions engaging in spirited debates. On the other hand, many people use the group to pose simpler questions, such as requests for recommendations of instruments, products or services.

AEA’s LinkedIn group also hosts a number of interesting discussions on various evaluation-related topics. And while you’re on LinkedIn, look for other groups as well. I belong to a number of additional evaluation-related groups: The Evaluators’ Institute, The European Evaluation Society, Monitoring and Evaluation Professionals, Evaluators Group, RealWorld Evaluation, and Research, Methodologies, and Statistics in the Social Sciences. Some AEA Topical Interest Groups (TIGS) also have LinkedIn groups. And of course, some group discussions are more active than others.

All of these discussion groups have featured conversations around topics such as systems thinking, definitions of terms (e.g. outputs, outcomes, indicators, metrics, measures, etc.), how to deal with different types of data (e.g. Likert scales), statistical analysis software, RFPs, research design, capacity building, evaluation approaches, job openings, and much, much more.

Don’t forget to look for AEA, AEA TIGs, and AEA Affiliates on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter for even more evaluation conversation!

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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