CREATE Week: Leveraging Emerging Technologies to Produce Efficient Evaluation Practices by Sean Owen

Hello. I am Sean Owen, PhD, Associate Research Professor and Assessment Manager at the Research and Curriculum Unit (RCU) at Mississippi State University. Founded in 1965, the RCU contributes to Mississippi State University’s mission as a land-grant institution to better the lives of Mississippians by developing curricula and assessments, providing training and learning opportunities for educators, researching and evaluating programs, supporting and promoting career and technical education (CTE), and leading education innovations.  I love my role. One of my roles at the RCU focuses on providing our stakeholders practical strategies to inform their practices better and to guide future processes.

Lesson Learned: Technology can help improve Evaluation Efficiency. The use of technology and its proper integration in program evaluation techniques can be your friend and not your enemy. In a 2016 article by Frank Materia et al., the researchers found that evaluators can reduce the amount of time, money, and staff that have always been limiting factors when designing evaluation plans and budgets. Of course, with any new tool, one must use caution to avoid the novelty factor of using a “new-to-you” tool and evaluate its “fit” with the audience. Evaluators should continue to seek mastery in the web-based and computer-based tools for data management, collection, and analysis. As with any new skill, integrating emerging technologies can only help us become stronger evaluators and researchers.

Hot Tip: Using Mendeley for reference management. I have been using Mendeley since its creation in 2007. This reference manager is available on all platforms (Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad, Android, and Web) and is free. It is a perfect tool to take your resources, references and notes with you everywhere you go. The software has tools like Mendeley Cite (plugin for Microsoft Word) and Web Importer (Google Chrome extension) that not only will help you import references and files into your manager database but also help you automatically build your bibliography in a singular or collaborative manner. The collaborative characteristic of this software application has enabled our research groups to efficiently produce evaluation reports and research independent of locale.

Rad Resources:

  • The AEA365 Blog! From new to experienced evaluators, this blog has daily tips, resources, and strategies to benefit each of us in our responsibilities in the evaluation community.
  • There are many great web resources for program evaluators. The Online Evaluation Resource Library (OERL) has assembled a listing of evaluation instruments organized by quality criteria, glossary, and evaluation standards’ alignment.
  • OERL also has professional development modules that can serve as a first dip in the water for new evaluators or experienced evaluators seeking a refresher in certain areas.

Materia, F. T., Miller, E. A., Runion, M. C., Chesnut, R. P., Irvin, J. B., Richardson, C. B., and Perkins, D. F.   (2016). Let’s get technical: Enhancing program evaluation through the use and integration of    internet and mobile technologies. Evaluation and Program Planning, 56, 31–42.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching (CREATE) week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members of CREATE. 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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