Derrick Gervin on Tips for New Evaluators

My name is Derrick Gervin and I currently work as a Lead Evaluator at The Evaluation Group (TEG) in Atlanta, Georgia. I work with school systems and nonprofit organizations to improve student achievement. After completing my first six months as a full-time evaluator, I would like to share some tips with other newcomers to evaluation.

Hot Tips:

  • Look inside: Identify your strengths and how they may be used in the evaluation. I realized early on that the field of evaluation was too diverse for me to know everything so I chose to pull from my strengths as a social work practitioner.
  • Relationship building: The more you know about your client and their work, the better you can meet their evaluation needs. I’ve taken to doing a Google search of both the client’s organization and key people in the organization – going beyond just their website helped me to uncover valuable information to assist in my work. Also, I take advantage of opportunities to interact with clients during special events (i.e., career fairs, book festivals, and trainings).
  • Build trust and be accessible: Make commitments and keep them. Ask clients for their input. Set aside time to be available to clients and return calls and emails as soon as possible. I have monthly evaluation meetings to discuss successes and challenges. Also, I spend as much time as possible on site meeting with project staff and observing processes.
  • Get Organized: Find an organizing system that works for you. Also, plan to do as much project management as direct evaluation work. Especially, when projects are at the beginning stage. I’ve found a need to take continuing education classes in time management and the use of Microsoft Excel. I’m constantly searching for ways to maximize my time and work more efficiently.
  • Conceptualization: Explore techniques to assist in conceptualizing planned work and expected outcomes. I regularly visit AEA365 for helpful data visualization tips and conceptualization resources. I really like DoView for creating logic models.
  • Professional Development: Take advantage of opportunities to increase evaluation knowledge and skills. Know your limitations and consult with mentors and other evaluators in the field. I’ve found my co-workers to be a great source for answering and/or talking through challenging evaluation related issues. I participate in monthly lunch and learn sessions, as well as, group conference calls where we discuss and receive feedback on our evaluation projects.

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

1 thought on “Derrick Gervin on Tips for New Evaluators”

  1. I definitely endorse the “get organized” advice. If your company is small enough (or you can convince your IT dept), you can download/install one of the great OpenSource/free PM and collaboration software. If not, there are free web-based sources. Check out the comments for this article for suggestions. Be careful that you do not select one that is a limited trial or restricts numbers of projects/users too much for the free version.,2817,2380448,00.asp

    For those of you who want to use Excel, here is a link to a good template

    I would also recommend One-Page Project Manager book and templates (free templates here:

    Simple leave out the PM items that you are not responsible for (e.g., I have no control over budget, so I don’t include that in my PM).

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