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Distilling Evaluation Practice into 43 Essential Tasks by Kelly Robertson and Lori Wingate

Hello, AEA365 community! Liz DiLuzio here, Lead Curator of the blog. This week is Individuals Week, which means we take a break from our themed weeks and spotlight the Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources and Lessons Learned from any evaluator interested in sharing. Would you like to contribute to future individuals weeks? Email me at AEA365@eval.org with an idea or a draft and we will make it happen.

We’re Kelly Robertson and Lori Wingate. We work at The Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University. We are part of EvaluATE, the evaluation hub for the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. To help EvaluATE focus its capacity development work, we created a list of essential ATE tasks. We’re using this list to guide development of a comprehensive set of resources to support evaluation in the ATE program.

We based the initial task list on AEA’s Evaluator Competencies, JCSEE’s Program Evaluation Standards, and our experience as evaluators. We then validated the tasks through (1) a year-long evaluation task-tracking study involving ATE evaluators and project leaders; (2) a Delphi study that included two rounds of review and feedback on the tasks by experienced evaluators; and (3) a review by critical friends with expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion in evaluation. (To learn how we maintained participation over a whole year, see our other AEA365 blog post about this study).

The list of essential ATE evaluation tasks contains 43 tasks. Each task statement describes an evaluation-related activity with a clear beginning and end, along with the purpose of the task. The tasks are organized around seven broad domains of evaluation activity:

  • Management Tasks focus on allocating and using the resources involved in conducting an evaluation, including people, time, and money.
  • Engagement Tasks are about involving people close to the project being evaluated (and close to the evaluation itself) in various ways throughout an evaluation.
  • Planning and Design Tasks focus onclarifying what will be evaluated and how to structure the inquiry.
  • Data Collection and Analysis Tasks are about gathering data andtransforming raw data into findings.
  • Interpretation Tasks are about making sense of analyzed data to answer evaluation questions and develop recommendations
  • Communication, Dissemination, and Use of Results Tasks address formal communication about evaluation, making the results available to others, and using the results to make decisions and take action.
  • The Quality Review Task focuses onobtaining formal and informal feedback about the degree to which the evaluation adheres to evaluation quality guidelines.

Rad Resource

If you are involved in evaluation capacity development, check out the list of essential ATE evaluation tasks. It might help you prioritize and focus your efforts to help your audience navigate the complexity of evaluation.

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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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