Hi, I’m Maureen Wilce, a founding member of the Atlanta-area Evaluation Association, and I’m Sarah Gill, president elect of AaEA. We’re both “true believers” in the power of evaluation to guide organizational learning. We’ve seen how good evaluation questions can help uncover important information to improve programs. We’ve also seen the opposite: how bad evaluation questions can waste time and resources – and increase distrust of evaluation in general.
Asking the right evaluation questions is critical to promoting organizational learning. Answers to good evaluation questions direct meaningful growth and build evaluation capacity. But what makes an evaluation question “good”? To get our answer, we reviewed the literature and then collected the practice wisdom of AaEA members and members of AEA’s Organizational Learning & Evaluation Capacity Building TIG. As we organized our thoughts, a checklist began to form. After more great discussions with our colleagues in AaEA and the TIG, we decided to structure the checklist around the standards. A few more refinements came as we used the resource in our work in CDC’s National Asthma Control Program, and finally, Good Evaluation Questions: A Checklist to Help Focus Your Evaluation was born!
Rad Resource: The Good Evaluation Questions Checklist, at http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/program_eval/AssessingEvaluationQuestionChecklist.pdf, is a tool to help ensure that the evaluation questions we create will be useful, relevant, and feasible. In keeping with the new accountability standard, it also provides a format for documenting our decisions when selecting evaluation questions.
Lesson Learned: Articulating what makes an evaluation question “good” requires thinking through several dimensions and assessing it against multiple criteria. A checklist can help us review evaluation questions to anticipate potential weaknesses and can also support communication with stakeholders during the question development process.
Rad Resource: While at the National Asthma Control Program website, check out our other evaluation resources, including our guides and webinars.
Get Involved: We received some great feedback from folks who attended our demonstration at AEA—thanks to all who joined us! If you have additional suggestions about how to improve the checklist, please leave them in the comments below.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Atlanta-area Evaluation Association (AaEA) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the AaEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AaEA Affiliate 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.