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Boris Volkov on What (Internal) Evaluators Can Do to Advance Evaluation Capacity Building

My name is Boris Volkov, and I am Assistant Professor in Evaluation Studies at the University of North Dakota. I’m involved with internal evaluation (IE) and evaluation capacity building (ECB) so I’ll share couple relevant tips and resources.

We know that the ECB practice is different from program evaluation. Obviously, the goal of ECB is to reinforce and sustain effective evaluation practices. However, properly structured internal evaluation practices can boost evaluation capacity development.

Hot Tips: Research and practice showed that IE can be very useful for ECB when internal evaluators are willing and able to systematically:

  • engage leadership in evaluation
  • demonstrate value and use of evaluation
  • seek to integrate evaluation into organizational culture
  • develop organizational evaluation strategy
  • expand the social network of evaluation champions
  • promote staff development in evaluation
  • engage staff in evaluation activities (learning by doing)
  • share their experiences and resources with staff, and
  • build a meaningful organizational M&E database.

Rad Resource: If you think you are interested in doing at least some of the above, I would recommend reading about and using helpful strategies described in “Exploring effective strategies for facilitating evaluation capacity development” by Hallie Preskill and Shanelle Boyle (in a new UNICEF-sponsored book “From policies to results: Developing national capacities for country M&E systems,” available for free download at http://www.mymande.org/?q=virtual). Just to highlight some examples of how some of those strategies can be applied by internal (and, sometimes, external) evaluators:

  • Involve your clients in your evaluation processes (whenever it is feasible/meaningful).
  • Coach/mentor one or two colleagues in your organization by providing individualized evaluation/research support.
  • Provide targeted trainings to your colleagues (e.g., on logic models, qualitative analysis, survey development).
  • Produce, adapt, and share written resources about evaluation processes and findings pertinent to your organization (plans, reports, newsletters, memos, etc.).
  • Tap the power of technology to learn from and about evaluation using the organizational website, Intranet, listserv and creating a database of internal and external evaluation documents/resources (forms, checklists, audio/video recordings, as well as written documents mentioned above).
  • Promote communities of practice (or learning circles) that focus on or incorporate elements of evaluation – to share evaluation experiences and information among staff members and partners with common professional interests.
  • Organize regular meetings to discuss evaluation related issues (e.g., as part of staff /R&D meetings).

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

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