4 Ways Members are Using the AEA Guiding Principles by Sarah Heath

Hello! I’m Sarah Heath (Instructor at the University of Winnipeg) and I’m a member of the AEA Guiding Principles Working Group. We have been tasked with finding creative ways to build awareness of the 2018-updated AEA Evaluators’ Ethical Guiding Principles among AEA members.

As a working group member, I’ve become fascinated by the different ways that members are involving the Guiding Principles in their work. Today, I’d like to share with you some of those strategies:

  1. Including the Guiding Principles in workplans, proposals, and contracts: Members noted documenting and sharing the Guiding Principles with clients and collaborators to make evident and visible what they as evaluators prioritize and how they approach their work.

Rad Resource: The AEA Town Hall: Using the Revised AEA Guiding Principles in Your Practice provides a thorough overview of the Guiding Principles with many examples. The Town Hall recording features members of our working group as well as members of the task force that worked on the 2018 revisions.

Hot Tip: Consider adding budget items for meetings that allow the discussion of the Guiding Principles at the onset of a project and throughout. The Guiding Principles can also be referenced as a tool for resolving potential conflict and disagreement.

  • Exploring the Guiding Principles with students and community members through case studies: Case studies facilitate practical discussions about how the Guiding Principles can be understood and applied in realistic scenarios.

Rad Resource: The AEA Guiding Principles Training Package (currently under revision) includes a set of instructional PowerPoint slides, three distinct case studies, and worksheets to walk participants through using the case studies.

Hot Tip: Think about personalizing the cases or Guiding Principle examples to your audience or to your own evaluation experience.

  • Applying the Guiding Principles to mentor new and emerging evaluators and provide peer advice: When an evaluator seeks mentorship or advice about an ethical issue, the Guiding Principles can help structure what could be a difficult and uncomfortable conversation.

Rad Resource: Kylie Hutchinson has produced an edited volume called Evaluation Failures, which features many examples of how principles can be challenged in real-life evaluations.

Hot Tip: Consider sharing your own ethical challenges applying the Guiding Principles with mentees and peers as a reminder that even the most skilled and experienced evaluators face challenges and dilemmas.

  • Using the Guiding Principles to initiate a reflective practice: Reviewing the Guiding Principles in consideration of my own practices was an initial step toward building a habitual reflective practice.

Rad Resource: Mike Morris’s book on evaluation dilemmas is a wonderful resource for reflecting on ethics in evaluation and using a Guiding Principles Checklist can help you systematically review your work.

Hot Tip: Reflective practice is like a muscle with muscle memory so the more we engage in deep thought and constructive dialogue about such challenges, the better we become at working through them solo or in a team. 

AEA Guiding Principles cover

For more ideas, keep reading aea365!

This post is part of an occasional series on the AEA Guiding Principles. Each post in the series was contributed by a member of the AEA Guiding Principles Working Group. 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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