#Eval14 Grad Students Reflection Week: Kristin Woods on Enhancing your conference experience through Topical Interest Group involvement

I am Kristin Woods, 2013-2014 co-chair for the GSNE TIG; I am a PhD student at Oklahoma State University in the Research, Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics program and a faculty member at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

I attended my first AEA conference in 2012 and was overwhelmed by the number of people and sessions as well as trying to learn about AEA. My advisor, Dr. Katye Perry, encouraged me to attend the Graduate Student and New Evaluator’s TIG business meeting. This drastically changed my experience with AEA because I was voted in as a co-chair even though I did not really know what I was getting into. Over the past two years, this experience has granted me many opportunities that have made me a better evaluator.

Opportunity 1: AEA Involvement. As a co-chair, I have further developed my skills as an evaluator through the vast amounts of resources on the AEA website. I have worked with AEA members, members of the board of directors, and staff on various tasks for the conference. For example, I served as a member and then chair of the Student Travel Awards Working Group and as a conference volunteer.

Opportunity 2: GSNE TIG Involvement. I have developed leadership skills through working with other members of the leadership team to coordinate the conference program, serve as a reviewer, run the business meetings, coordinate social outings, communicate with members, and develop a peer-mentorship program that connects novice evaluators with peers to aid navigating AEA and offer advice on evaluation.

Rad Resources:

  • GSNE TIG website has specific information geared toward novice evaluators and those new to AEA.
  • GSNE TIG Facebook Community Page is a place TIG members informally network throughout the year. We share resources, ask questions, and celebrate our successes as well as commiserate over our struggles.

Opportunity 3: Networking. These opportunities have allowed me to expand my network to include novice to more experienced evaluators from all over the world. I have co-authored several accepted submissions at the 2013 and 2014 AEA conferences, chaired sessions, and been asked to speak at another TIG’s business meeting. This has led to the past two years conferences being drastically different from my first conference. I speak with people I met the previous year, have engaged with through the Facebook page, e-mail, or on the phone. It allows me to put a face with a name, get to know them, and connect with another evaluator that has different experiences, therefore, becoming another resource in my toolbox to pull from when needed, which I do often.

We’re celebrating Evaluation 2014 Graduate Students Reflection Week. This week’s contributions come from graduate students of Dr. Osman Ozturgut of the Dreeben School of Education at the University of the Incarnate Word, along with students from other universities. 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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