AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

CAT | Graduate Student and New Evaluators

Hi Everyone! My name is Cherie Avent, and I am a second year Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina Greensboro with a focus on program evaluation and research methods. I have been fortunate to work on diverse evaluation projects in which the faculty allow students to lead and select the theory that would serve as a guide for our purpose or aim. However, recent discussions in classes and with peers have centered on knowing self and the connections to theoretical orientation. I realized I had been working on evaluation projects without fully considering my own beliefs/values and the theoretical orientation from which I want to work. As a result, I was unaware of how my beliefs/values affected the evaluation designs, processes, and interactions with stakeholders.

Many scholars argue the need for critical reflection on these topics, but I wonder, how many of us do it. Particularly for novice evaluators, can we articulate who we are, what we believe/value, the role we serve, how knowledge is constructed, and other worldviews? Are we aware of how these answers shape our theoretical orientation? Are we able to articulate our theoretical orientation? Answers to these questions frame our approach and methods. The AEA Guiding Principles for Evaluators emphasizes the importance of self-reflection and being explicit about the role one’s beliefs play in the conduct of evaluation.

Lesson Learned: Begin self-reflecting early
It’s important to spend time reflecting on one’s beliefs and values because they show up in every aspect of our work. The reflection can begin with questions such as, who am I? What do I believe/value? How do my personal and professional experiences affect me as an evaluator? Then move into more complex questions: Why am I doing this work?  What do I believe the role of an evaluator is and what would I like my role to be? How do I believe knowledge is constructed? I am now starting to explore these questions, and I invite you to do the same.Hot Tip 1: Develop a small group/network to share your thoughts, dilemmas, and difficulties as a way to work through these questions. By dialoguing, you can help each other in understanding, clarifying, and expanding perspectives. More specifically, it enhances our ability to express our theoretical orientations to others verbally. The interactions might occur in-person, over the phone, or via online methods. There’s no limit!

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Theory and Practice week. The aea365 contributions all this week come from Dr. Ayesha Boyce and her University of North Carolina Greensboro graduate students’ reflections on evaluation theory and practice. 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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Hello all, My name is Justin Long and I am a 4th year M.S./PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I was always told to use methods and the evaluation theory that fit the context. If an evaluation is better served through a participatory evaluation then don’t force an deliberative-democratic evaluation approach. In some of my early work I found this out the hard way. It’s not just about the methods we use, it’s how we justify those methods. All evaluators come into the field with personal bias of what knowledge is and how it is created or discovered.

This is called our epistemological/ ontological view or framework and everyone has a framework whether they’re directly aware of it or not. There are two main camps of epistemologies I’d like to talk about. Don’t panic. First, knowledge exists in the world and we attempt to estimate it but we can never see it; that’s the post-positivist perspective. Second, knowledge is a human construction in which a researcher seeks to understand that construction; this is called constructivism. For practitioners, who may be less familiar with the epistemological underpinnings of evaluation, their epistemological framework is not always explicit and that’s a big problem. This framework affects how we justify and interpret chosen methods and not just inform the choice of methods used. Using a particular method doesn’t assume an epistemological framework, but rather how you would use and interpret the results. By not acknowledging our epistemological framework we are biased in our findings.

Lessons Learned:

Early in my career I worked with a community non-profit helping adults with special needs and their caregivers. During our work I decided to use a more post-positivist epistemology methodology driven by my experimental psychology background. It was a complete and utter disaster. I used a structured interview – no emotion, no follow up, just questions. It was the most awkward interview of my life. My ontology and epistemology biased my approach to methods. It didn’t fit the context and the results and interviewee suffered.

Rad Resources:

  • Carter, S.M., & Little, M. (2007). Justifying knowledge, justifying method, taking action: Epistemologies, methodologies, and methods in qualitative research. Qualitative Health Research, 17(10). 1316-1328.
  • Hatch, J. A. (2002). Doing qualitative research in education settings. Suny Press.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Theory and Practice week. The aea365 contributions all this week come from Dr. Ayesha Boyce and her University of North Carolina Greensboro graduate students’ reflections on evaluation theory and practice. 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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Greetings Everyone (and graduate students in particular)! My name is J. R. Moller and I am a first year Ph.D. student within the Educational Research Methodology Department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Prior to starting my Ph.D., I worked in evaluation and was trained on the job. I learned a lot, but nothing about theory and its tie-in to methodology (and of course how to apply that in practice!). As I am journeying through my graduate program, the importance of theory has become very clear. Similarly, the relationship between methodology and theory has been highlighted and is now at the forefront of my practice. While I am still learning about theories and different evaluation methods, it has become evident that theory and methodology are integrally linked and crucial in conducting strong evaluations. This linkage helps in framing the evaluation, identifying and developing the appropriate approach based on the evaluation aims, and even crafting the evaluation questions.

Lessons Learned 1: There is no perfect theory. However, understanding theories and identifying your own will help you in organizing yourself and your approach to different evaluations. You may not fit neatly into one theoretical orientation and that’s OK.

Lessons Learned 2: While your theory should be related to methodology, it cannot be the only thing that dictates your methods. It is important that the evaluation method(s) you select are appropriate to answering the evaluation question(s). For example, if your evaluation question is about how program participation affects participants one year after completion, you would not just collect attendance data for while the person was in the program, but would need a method that would allow you to follow-up with the program graduate one year later and have a basis for comparison.

Hot Tip: Speak to your advisor or evaluation mentor (or get one) in order to help parse the theories that you might use or want to use in your work. Talking it out is helpful!

Rad Resource 1: Mertens, D. M., & Wilson, A. T. (2012). Program Evaluation Theory and Practice: A Comprehensive Guide. New York: Guilford Publications.

This book is critical to so many things evaluation! From gaining just a cursory understanding of what evaluation is (terms and all) to understanding the paradigms, theories, and “ologies”, to the types of evaluations, implementing them, and then communicating findings, this book provides an excellent road map for understanding and performing evaluation with a theoretical lens. Check out chapters 2, 8, and 9 especially.

Rad Resource 2: Schwandt, T. A. (2015). Evaluation foundations revisited: cultivating a life of the mind for practice. Stanford University Press.

This book provides a palatable link between theory and practice. It provides clarity on what a theory is and examples of different types of theories. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 are particularly helpful in providing tangible links between theory, methods, and practice.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Theory and Practice week. The aea365 contributions all this week come from Dr. Ayesha Boyce and her University of North Carolina Greensboro graduate students’ reflections on evaluation theory and practice. 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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Hello! My name is Adeyemo Adetogun, I’m a doctoral student in the Education Research Methodology department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). My area of concentration is in program evaluation with a focus on Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

The very notion that we can evaluate anything, including evaluation itself, is a testament to the ubiquitous influence evaluation has on us as humans, and our activities. Accordingly, I found Shadish, Cook, and Levinton (1991) excerpts in their book, Foundations of Program Evaluation: Theories of Practice, to be useful in highlighting the interdependence of theory and practice in the field of evaluation. The body of knowledge concerned with organizing, categorizing, describing, predicting, explaining, understanding, and controlling a topic is equally as important as and deeply informs the body of knowledge that explicates the relationships between goals, processes, activities, conflict, or other issues experienced within the field of evaluation. Stated simply, our theory informs our practice.

A man recognized as the founder of social psychology, Kurt Lewin, once said, “. . . there is nothing so practical as good theory.” Another scholar, Michael Fullan, noted for his expertise on educational reform added, “. . . there is nothing so theoretical as good practice.” In all these, I see evaluation theory and practice as two halves of the same body; both needing each other to further develop the identity of the field.

Lessons Learned:

As I continue to learn and engage in research that will increase my understanding of evaluation theory and practice, a few lessons have emerged from my scholarship thus far. I lean on the suggestions of Shadish, Cook, and Levinton (1991) to articulate them more succinctly:

  1. Every evaluator should be well grounded in evaluation theory; otherwise they will be left to trial and error, or to professional lore in learning about appropriate methods. Consider that evaluation theories are like military strategy and tactics – methods are like military weapons and logistics. A good military commander with fine training and shrewdness needs to know strategy and tactics to deploy weapons properly, and should be able to organize logistics in different situations. A similar worldview must apply to a good evaluator – they need theories for the same reasons in choosing and deploying methods.
  2. Evaluation theory provide meaning for practice, and all evaluation practitioners are nascent evaluation theorists. They think about what they are doing, make considered judgments about which methods to use in each situation, weigh advantages and disadvantages of choices they face, and learn from successes and failures in their past evaluations.

Rad Resources: Check out this link for further reading:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Theory and Practice week. The aea365 contributions all this week come from Dr. Ayesha Boyce and her University of North Carolina Greensboro graduate students’ reflections on evaluation theory and practice. 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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Hello, my name is Jeremy Acree and I’m a Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), focusing primarily on research methods and program evaluation. I previously worked as a middle school math teacher, and the connections between teaching and evaluation have been interesting to explore. I’m particularly drawn to the ways theory and practice inform each other. In teaching, pedagogical ideals can be difficult to implement in the ever-changing context of schools and classrooms. In evaluation, theory also represents the ideal, but can often be indistinguishable in practice. The approaches and methods we choose are often intended to lead to certain processes and findings, but stakeholder reactions and interpretations can vary based on factors that are beyond the evaluator’s control.

Some recent readings and conversations in my classes have focused on these dynamics of theory and practice. I know that many evaluators come to graduate programs after spending years working in the field. I entered my program at UNCG with a relatively blank slate in terms of both practical and theoretical perspectives, but I wonder about the benefits and drawbacks of different entry points. What do long-time practitioners gain by learning more about evaluation theory? What am I missing by building my knowledge of evaluation from theoretical approaches and concepts before fully understanding practice? Which should come first, knowledge of evaluation theory, or practical evaluation experience?

I don’t have answers to these questions, but I have started to piece together some thoughts about theory and practice.

Lesson Learned (Theory)

Evaluation theory isn’t a checklist or a prescriptive formula for conducting evaluation in practice. Evaluation is rooted in a rich history of social science, policy, and organizational management, and evaluation theory incorporates elements from these and other arenas to guide and justify what evaluation is and what it is intended to do. Theoretical concerns can be useful to practitioners, providing new perspectives and methods, and expanding notions of the role of evaluation.

Lesson Learned: (Practice)

Practice is at the heart of evaluation. Evaluators describe and construct values, raise and answer questions about program actions and outcomes, and provide judgments that inform stakeholder decision-making. These processes take place within varied contexts, for varied purposes, and through varied approaches, making evaluation complex, challenging, and difficult for theorists to conceptualize. Yet, while practitioners can learn from the broad guidance provided by theory, there is likely even more for theorists to consider in the nuances and intricacies of practice.

Rad Resources:

  • Chouinard, J. A., Boyce, A. S., Hicks, J., Jones, J., Long, J., Pitts, R., & Stockdale, M. (2017). Navigating theory and practice in evaluation fieldwork: Experiences of novice evaluation practitioners. American Journal of Evaluation, 38(4), 493–506.
  • Christie, C. a, & Christie, C. a. (2003). What Guides Evaluation? A Study of How Evaluation Practice Maps onto Evaluation Theory. New Directions for Evaluation, (97), 7–36. https://doi.org/10.1002/ev.72
  • Schwandt, T. A. (2014). On the Mutually Informing Relationship Between Practice and Theory in Evaluation. American Journal of Evaluation, 35(2), 231–236. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214013503703

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Theory and Practice week. The aea365 contributions all this week come from Dr. Ayesha Boyce and her University of North Carolina Greensboro graduate students’ reflections on evaluation theory and practice. 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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My name is Ayesha Boyce and I am an assistant professor within the Educational Research Methodology Department at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Our department offers a comprehensive curriculum in program evaluation with a social justice focus. Jill Anne Chouinard, Tiffany Smith, and I teach classes in program evaluation and research methodology where we emphasize good practice with mindful attentiveness to theoretical roots. Advanced evaluation theory is one of the seven program evaluation courses graduate students are able to enroll in. This course critically examines diverse approaches to the evaluation of education and social programs. The course analyzes four major branches evaluation (Alkin, 2013; Mertens & Wilson, 2012), demarcated by their major purpose and audience. Across paradigms, the course focuses on evaluation approaches’ assumptions about knowledge, views of social programs and social change, stances regarding the role and purpose of evaluation in society, location of values in evaluation, and intended utilization and applicability of evaluative findings. I was the instructor of the inaugural course, offered in Spring 2018.

Lesson Learned: Chatting with evaluation thought leaders virtually

One of the most exciting aspects of the course was to have renowned evaluation thought leader, Tom Schwandt, Skype into class twice. We used chapters from his Evaluation Foundations Revisited book and wanted to be able to converse with him about a few of the topics. As an evaluation educator, I have found that it doesn’t hurt to send an email to evaluation authors, scholars, and thought leaders to see if they might be interested in participating in a conversation with students virtually!

Lesson Learned: Innovative course activities

There are three aspects of the course that I found to work well with engaging the sometimes esoteric topic of evaluation theory.

  • I developed opportunities for students to role play as evaluators and stakeholders with differing values in multiple contexts which assisted in bringing theory into a more practical realm.
  • For the final assignment students were asked to present their papers in a variety of non-traditional representational forms, including case study critique, debate, interactive activity, simulated town meeting, narrative, poetry, or performance. This style of presentation, often championed by AEA president Leslie Goodyear and past president Jennifer Greene, allowed for creative and less formal presentations, which can be used when working with a variety of stakeholders and to engage with competing values and cultural ways of knowing.
  • Finally, I had each student write a blog post and I am pleased that for the next five days, you all will be able to read their reflections on evaluation theory and practice.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Theory and Practice week. The aea365 contributions all this week come from Dr. Ayesha Boyce and her University of North Carolina Greensboro graduate students’ reflections on evaluation theory and practiceDo 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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Beverly Peters

Beverly Peters

Greetings! I’m Beverly Peters, an evaluator with over 25 years’ experience, mainly in southern Africa. As an Assistant Professor at American University, I teach online evaluation courses in Measurement and Evaluation.

I am very cognizant when I teach evaluation that I am training graduate students who will in the future be conceptualizing, implementing, and/or evaluating programs aimed in one way or another at improving people’s lives. This is a privilege and responsibility I take seriously, as my students will one day be decision makers who will likely have the power to change people’s lives. I have a mere semester to share practical experiences, to stress to students that as outsiders in another community or even culture, they must think through their role and the expected and unexpected consequences of their actions. I need to find ways to stress that even if we are engaging in participatory development and evaluation processes, the evaluator, the outsider, is oftentimes the one making decisions that impact other people’s social or economic development. This is what I have called the unwelcome power of the evaluator, and an important opening for me to mentor students on how to act ethically, responsibly, and professionally.  These are aspects which, difficult to learn from a textbook, I seek to integrate into interactions I have with students.

How does this relate to your work as an evaluator? Even if you do not teach evaluation courses, I venture to guess that many of you act as mentors or even train evaluation teams. How can you ensure that you encourage and train novice evaluators to act ethically, responsibly, and professionally? How can you encourage them to consider the unwelcome power of our profession?

Here’s what I have learned from more than two decades of teaching.

Hot Tips and Cool Tricks:

  • Approach mentees as colleagues, finding organic ways to prepare them for evaluation careers in a changing interdependent world where they may, for better or worse, have the power of the evaluator.
  • Respect mentees as adults who will one day make decisions that will impact the lives of others. Encourage their independent thinking, but give relevant feedback. Always encourage mentees to consider perspectives other than their own.
  • Create space for mentees to interact with you, so that mentoring, feedback, and growth become natural and exponential.
  • Challenge mentees with real life scenarios so that they consider their roles as evaluators, and how they would act ethically in any given situation.
  • Be approachable, yet aim to identify the mentees’ professional goals and shortcomings, providing advice for them to build the skills necessary to excel in evaluation today.

If even for a brief moment, your interactions with your evaluator mentees cause them to hesitate and ask what their role would be; how they can take into account local level perspectives; and how they can make a difference in the ways that we conceptualize and interact with others from diverse cultures and backgrounds, then you have been successful as a mentor and an evaluator.

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.

 

Hi, everyone! I’m Sara Vaca, independent consultant and AEA365 Outreach Coordinator and Creative Advisor.

Some weeks ago, I was approached by four graduate students from the University of Rochester (pursuing the Master’s degree in Program Evaluation), who had been tasked with interviewing a practicing evaluator and had chosen me to know about my career as an evaluator (!). At the end of the interview, they asked me if I could give them some tips for entering the evaluation field – which inspired me to do this post.

Rad Resources: I know others have already written about this issue. I could easily recap these 4 posts with great tips:

Hot Tips: I totally agree with the good advice given by my colleagues. But in case, if my particular mix helps someone, here they are:

  1. Try to get invited to an evaluation

Getting the first contracts when you have no experience feels sometimes like mission impossible. If you know an evaluator, you try to get him/her to “invite” you to an evaluation, even if it is as an intern.

  1. Offer something new

The sooner you identify your passion and start developing content about it, even if it is just theoretical, the sooner you may get specialized in something you like… and people may start hearing about you.

  1. Go to conferences

Do not expect to have fun immediately though (my first one, AEA2013, was a bit of a disaster), but ever since I feel I’m on my planet every time!

  1. Talk to your heroes

The evaluation field is unique in so many ways. One of them is that your favorite authors are your contemporaries and go to the conferences too (or have social media). So carefully find what to share or ask or talk about, and encourage yourself to say hi to them.

  1. Engage into pro bono stuff

Although the time that I devote to it has decreased now that I regularly have paid contracts to work on, I still engage into (too) many initiatives and ideas that do not involve money. I do it to learn and for fun, as I can choose what I commit to and who I work with with great freedom. Writing papers, preparing to present at conferences and other collaborations are a key part of my self-development strategy and it is clearly interconnected with my evaluation practice.

  1. Have a website

You will obviously have to send your CV to apply to offers, but I have found that having a website of your own often reinforces your image and help people trust you. Also, if you have a blog in it, you can pour your work and passion in it!

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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Hi, we’re Audrey McIntyre and Michael Prideaux. We recently completed internships at The Improve Group, an evaluation consulting firm based in Minnesota.

As new evaluators, we have interesting perspectives from serving on evaluation teams during our internships. We worked with The Improve Group colleagues and clients on projects for the Angel Foundation, the Highland Friendship Club, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. In our work, we were truly members of the evaluation teams: We designed surveys and conducted interviews, analyzed data, and helped clients understand the findings.

Lesson Learned: Communication is key

One of the main avenues to success in an evaluation project team is strong communication. That extends to sharing core values. If you’re working from the same premise to the same goal, you only have to figure out the steps in between, rather than also having to put in time to determine a shared starting point.

Aside from moving a project forward, we found that strong communication allows team members to learn from each other. Especially being new to evaluation, we really valued hearing others’ ideas on projects and learned a lot just from listening to what our team members suggested. We met regularly with organization leaders about our projects to co-develop ideas on how to engage clients – it was through these meetings that we, too, were able to contribute our ideas and perspectives to The Improve Group’s work.

Hot Tip: Take full advantage of bright, engaged interns on evaluation teams

By being integrated into The Improve Group’s project work, we were able to contribute fully to the organization. Often organizations delegate less interesting tasks, like data entry, to interns. And while that is an important skill to grow, and we did do some data entry, we also did a lot of brainstorming, problem-solving, and development of things that made a difference and contributed to the team – which is what we loved the most.

Working on projects as interns also allowed us to be contributing to a larger goal as we were learning. Take Audrey’s contributions to The Improve Group’s project providing technical assistance and program evaluation to Minnesota Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs grantees as an example. She had some experience with data analysis at the time, but not enough to think of half the things the team suggested regarding how to analyze, visualize, and report the information we had gathered. If she hadn’t worked on a team, she wouldn’t have been able to do the good work she did on that project.

Rad Resource:  AEA’s Graduate Education Diversity Internship program provides paid internship and training opportunities during the academic year. Additional internship opportunities are posted on local AEA affiliate sites in April each year.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Evaluation Teams Week. 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.

What’s up! We are Gwendolyn Baxley and Larry D. Brown Jr., doctoral students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and evaluators as part of the Wisconsin Evaluation Collaborative Clinic. The Clinic responds to the small-scale evaluation needs by matching trained graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with schools and education-focused community organizations in Dane County.

As graduate students, there are many benefits to engaging as professional evaluators, including obtaining applied and practical “research” experience in the field. The Clinic, and evaluation experience in general, provides us with an opportunity to connect our methodological and content expertise as trained academic scholars to serve and meet the evaluation needs of local schools and community organizations. Beyond solely publishing on or about organizations, we partner with them to provide real-time and annual feedback and technical assistance to better understand, improve, or transform their programs.

While conducting evaluations in the Clinic, we have learned two major lessons:

Lesson Learned: Teamwork and collaboration is key.

You cannot do this work alone.  It is not only important to leverage the perspective and expertise of colleagues, but also imperative to work in partnership with stakeholders in the programs we are evaluating. These include working in partnerships with youth, parents, program staff, and community members. With their local knowledge and expertise, youth, parents, program staff, and community members offer distinct sources of expertise and knowledge that enhance evaluation design, implementation, and use.

Lesson Learned: Critical reflection is integral to evaluation.

It is important to constantly reflect on one’s identity (culture, race, class, gender, educational level, sexual orientation, and social status, etc) and the sociopolitical contexts in which we do our work. Aspects of society and our own background may shape the evaluation design and process, in both intended and unintended ways.  Critical Reflexivity, particularly regarding issues of race, racism and marginality, is important in helping evaluators understand the ways in which  sociopolitical contexts and their own identities shape how they interact with evaluation “participants”,  view and interpret data, as well as frame and report evaluation findings.

As scholar-evaluators, graduate student evaluators gain valuable skills and experience that are rarely offered in a traditional academic program. The Clinic provides comprehensive training that prepares students for immediate hands-on opportunities in the field to apply obtained academic knowledge through practical experiences. Exposure to evaluation gives students insight into potential non-tenure track career options. Moreover, graduate student evaluators build networks, connect with and learn from the community in meaningful ways, and can engage in a culturally responsive manner.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating The Wisconsin Idea in Action Week coordinated by the LEAD Center. The LEAD (Learning through Evaluation, Adaptation, and Dissemination) Center is housed within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) at the School of EducationUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison and advances the quality of teaching and learning by evaluating the effectiveness and impact of educational innovations, policies, and practices within higher education. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from student and adult evaluators living in and practicing evaluation from the state of WI. 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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