Greetings! I am Tania Rempert, a Research Associate at University of Illinois, Champaign. This post is written together with my colleagues Leanne Kallemeyn, David Ensminger, and Megan Polanin from Loyola University in Chicago. We would like to share our preliminary findings of a case study examining evaluation coaching activities that have taken place at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago over the past five years. Five years ago, the National Museum of Mexican Art engaged in an innovative method to secure an evaluation coach, when they found that their needs to evaluate more than 15 small, but distinct, programs far surpassed their budget to hire an internal evaluator or hire an external evaluation for each of these programs. The museum decided to pool all of the evaluation funding from these various programs and hire a local evaluator as a “coach” to train each of the program coordinators to evaluate their own program(s). In completing this case study, we hope other non-profit organizations might take advantage of the evaluation expertise of an outside evaluation “coach” when the budget for evaluation is excessively small.
- Use a Coaching Model: The evaluator spent one day per month on-site, providing large-group professional development on general evaluation topics and one additional day per month working one-on-one with the program personnel from each program. The one-on-one meetings for each program provided each program worker with support in implementing the evaluation process at whatever stage or level they were at.
Lessons Learned: As a team, we are in the midst of conducting a case study of this coaching model.
- Coaching allows for differentiation. Because not everyone begins the evaluation process at the same level of interest, exposure, and understanding, the one-on-one component of this evaluation coaching model allows the evaluator to provide each program coordinator with the specific detailed evaluation strategies needed just at that time to move their evaluation project forward.
- Learning evaluation takes time. The evaluation capacity-building process via coaching program personnel takes significantly more time to develop into evaluation proficiency than if there was a professional evaluator handling the all of the organizational evaluation activities.
- Evaluative thinking has become institutionalized. Not only has this evaluation coaching model produced a cadre of program coordinators in the Museum that have internalized evaluative thinking as a part of their programmatic implementation, but the development of logic models and connecting planned theoretical outcomes to the proposals written by the development department, and measuring consistent and long-term outcomes has become institutionalized.
- More professional development and support is needed. The evaluation activity that still eludes most of the program coordinators is reporting findings of their evaluation processes.
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