Hello! Sheila B. Robinson here, aea365’s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor. I composed the original version of post in 2013, but feel it deserves another go and an update as I’m feverishly queuing up more fabulous sponsored weeks for summer.
Hot Tip: Leave no stone unturned! In other words, don’t skip entire weeks. You can learn a lot even when a sponsored week’s group name doesn’t resonate with you. During sponsored weeks, you can read about how evaluators in different contexts from your own have grappled with evaluation challenges, learned something from working in diverse communities, or tried new technologies to enhance their evaluation practice and are now willing to share their experiences with all of us.
Hot Tip: Dig for enticing artifacts! Look for posts with content that transcends the focus of the sponsored week. For example, while I don’t generally conduct research on evaluation, work for a non-profit or foundation, or work in advocacy and policy change, I found these gems (and many others!) during sponsored weeks from those TIGs:
- I learned more about how evaluators think about context from Sarah Mason in this post during Research on Evaluation (RoE TIG) Week (2019).
- Dr. Shanesha Brooks-Tatum has great advice for what to do when outcomes are less than ideal or unexpected in this article from Non-profits and Foundations (NPF TIG) Week (2018).
- Heather Krause offers good tips for using pubic data to measure outcomes for vulnerable populations during Advocacy and Policy Change (APC TIG) week (2017).
Lesson Learned: While our sponsored week authors may share evaluation foci with each other, they offer Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Lessons Learned, and Rad Resources that appeal to and can be educative for a broad range of evaluators.
Cool Trick: Get your hands dirty! Sift through the archive and unearth your own gems in sponsored (and non-sponsored!) weeks.
Lesson Learned: Many sponsored weeks have themes that cut across evaluation contexts. In addition to many TIG and Affiliate-sponsored weeks, we’ve recently hosted themes weeks on:
- The Interdisciplinary PhD in Evaluation (IDPE) program at Western Michigan University (2020)
- Issues of Culturally Responsive and Equitable Evaluation (CREE) with contributions from members of the Expanding the Bench Initiative (ETB) (2020)
- R (software environment for statistics) (2019)
- Contribution, Leadership, and Renewal Week with contributions from Minnesota-based evaluators (2019)
- Become: Community Engagement and Social Change (2018)
- Evaluation Teams Week (2017)
- …and many, many more interesting themes!
Rad Resource: History in the making: Check out aea365 and our archive for a list of over 3700 (!) nuggets of evaluation wisdom from hundreds of authors. With around 400 sponsored weeks on aea365, there’s a lot to learn! So, get into comfortable clothes, get your virtual trowel, sieve, and brush, and get your read on!
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.