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

Mar/13

6

Tania Jarosewich and Linda Simkin on Using the College Access Network Survey

Hi, this is Tania Jarosewich of Censeo Group, a program evaluation firm in northeast Ohio, and Linda Simkin of Action Research Associates of Albany, New York. We worked on different aspects of the evaluation of KnowHow2GO, an initiative funded by Lumina Foundation to strengthen college access networks.  We are excited to share with you the College Access Network Survey, a resource that Linda helped to create as part of the Academy for Educational Development (AED) evaluation team. The network survey is a tool to gather network members’ perspectives about their engagement with a network and a network’s effectiveness and outcomes.

During implementation of KH2GO, the AED technical assistance team, with Linda’s help identified five dimensions of an effective network: network management, sustainable services systems, data-driven decision-making, policy and advocacy, and knowledge development and dissemination. This framework helped guide the development of the survey, technical assistance, and evaluation of network-building efforts.

As part of the evaluation, KnowHow2GO grantees invited members of their statewide or regional networks to respond to the survey. The Network Survey provided useful information for the foundation, initiative partners, technical assistance providers, network leaders, and network members to plan technical assistance and professional development, and allowed networks to monitor network health. With minor changes, the survey can be applied to network efforts focused on different content or service areas.

Lesson Learned: Support grantees’ Network Survey use and analysis. Network leaders focused on their work – not on evaluation. Letters that introduced the survey, an informational webinar, support monitoring response rates, and individual trouble shooting were helpful to encourage grantees to engage network members in the survey.

Lesson Learned: Provide targeted technical assistance and professional development based on survey findings. The survey results allowed technical assistance providers to target their support and helped to emphasize the usefulness of the survey instrument and process

Lesson Learned: Use network survey results to show progress towards network outcomes. Information about the strengths of each network were useful for the funder and participating networks. The survey results were triangulated with other evaluation data to provide a comprehensive analysis of growth in the network building process.

Rad Resource: You can obtain a copy of the College Access Network Survey and guidelines for its use from Carrie Warick, Director of Partnerships and Policy, National College Access Network (NCAN), WarickC@CollegeAccess.org, 202-347-4848 x203. The survey can be adapted for use with networks focused on various content areas.

Rad Resource: Keep an eye out for a longer article about the Network Survey that will appear in an upcoming issue of the Foundation Review. You can also access additional resources about the Network Survey here – handouts (free from the AEA Public eLibrary) and a Coffee Break webinar recording (free only for AEA members).

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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