Stan Capela on The Philosophical Evaluator
As an evaluator I am often confronted by questions that I often think about while taking the Staten Island Ferry at the end of the day. My name is Stan Capela and I am the VP for Quality Management and Corporate Compliance Officer for HeartShare Human Services. I am also the current AEA Government TIG Chair.
One of the many dilemmas an evaluator faces is the time to ponder questions that provide an opportunity to think about evaluation in a different way. Very often, these questions play a role on how I approach evaluation during the course of the day.
Lesson Learned: I have been an internal evaluator since 1978 where I worked for the first ten years at Catholic Charities, followed by 22 years at HeartShare. I have come in contact with a wide range of issues none more important than the impact a program evaluation has on the individuals served by the program. Often I ask myself a very simple question, what impact will my evaluation report have on the individuals served by the program? I raise this question more often since HeartShare serves a population that is predominantly developmentally disabled. If you are knowledgeable of such a population you know that a program’s impact on this population can often be incremental.
Lesson Learned: When you try to conduct consumer surveys focusing on developmentally disabled stakeholders you are often left with a choice of whether to attempt an interview with an individual whose ability to comprehend the question may be limited; rely on families who may have limited contact with the individual; or turn to staff who may fear if they answer the question honestly there may be a negative impact on their employment.
This leads to a very simple question around which I am seeking feedback. Specifically, as an internal evaluator can you care about the population that is served by the program and may be impacted by the results of your findings? If you care, will that have an effect on your ability to be objective in reporting your findings? Maybe I am the only one but as an internal evaluator who has devoted 32 years of his life to the field of evaluation I often have asked myself these questions. What about you? Let me know by forwarding your comments to stan.capela@heartShare.org or sharing them via the comments below.
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