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Best of aea365 week: John LaVelle on Personal Statements About Evaluation

My name is John LaVelle, I am an advanced graduate student at Claremont Graduate University.  When I worked as the Jobs Coordinator for my department, I would encourage the students to develop a personal statement about evaluation.  This is important because when they would go to interviews, they would often be asked to describe their understanding of evaluation and explain it to people that may or may not have an background in evaluation.  This exercise eventually became an important element in the Evaluation Procedures course.

2014 Update: I am now Director of Operations and External Affairs for the School of Social Science, Policy & Evaluation at Claremont Graduate University.

Hot Tip: Develop a personal statement of what evaluation means to you and how it can and should be practiced in dynamic, fluid, and political organizational and community environments and how it differs from basic research. In other words, if a client asked you to explain your understanding of evaluation, your approach to evaluation, how you would work with stakeholders, and so on, what would you tell him or her? In your statement, explain what processes you think are important for designing and implementing an evaluation, and how you would approach determining an evaluation’s design and data collection methods.

What might your personal statement of evaluation look like?

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Best of aea365 week. The contributions all this week are reposts of great aea365 blogs from our earlier years. 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.

3 thoughts on “Best of aea365 week: John LaVelle on Personal Statements About Evaluation”

  1. Thanks for this great post John, it inspired us to create our own explanation of evaluation for the layperson. We have shared our thoughts on our blog: http://www.clearhorizon.com.au/discussion/what-is-evaluation/

    Our explanation is as follows:
    Government and Non-government organisations use the public’s money to try to make change in the world. Evaluators have the task of determining what change an organisation is trying to achieve with that money and then gathering evidence to determine if the change occurred, whether the change is of value and whether it could have been done with less money.

    Evaluators gather this evidence by reading program documents, taking photos or video footage, and conducting interviews, surveys, focus groups and workshops with people who were involved in, or affected by, the program.

    Sometimes the evidence is gathered while a program is still running which means the organisation has a chance to improve the way they do things and sometimes it is gathered at the end of the program.

    Evaluation has an important role to play in helping us understand how our world works and how we can make our Government and Non-Government programs, and ultimately our world, function better.

  2. Hi John,

    Really enjoyed this post. As a graduate student getting close to the end of my evaluation training, I am always looking for topics regarding interviews and marketing myself. This is very helpful, as I can create my statement and make it my own so I look and sound confident during an interview situation (or, later in life, with clients). Thank you!

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