GEDI Week: Erica Roberts on Organizational Culture and Internal Evaluation

Hello! I am Erica Blue Roberts, a graduate of the AEA Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) program’s 2014-2015 cohort. Through the GEDI program I was an intern at the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health (NCI/NIH) in the Office of Science Planning and Assessment (OSPA). OSPA is responsible for the development and coordination of NCI’s science planning and evaluation efforts; and specifically for evaluation, OSPA serves to monitor research trends and provide consultation to NCI staff on evaluation activities. As one of the two interns placed at this site, I was able to contribute significantly to the evaluation of a NCI intramural training program and it was through this experience that I learned:

Lessons Learned:

  • It is critical to recognize the presence of and differences in a “culture of evaluation” amongst the evaluators, the client, and the stakeholders. In this unique situation, myself and the other GEDI held the role of the evaluators, and our contextual background included being graduate students in public health and aspiring evaluators. Our client was internal to NCI but external to OSPA, and included biomedical researchers; and our stakeholders were comprised of other biomedical researchers. Therefore, it was important for us to check-in throughout the evaluation and assess whether our client’s vision of the evaluation design and purpose was aligned with our vision. It was helpful for us to use the Evaluation Tree (see Rad Resources) to understand the different theoretical perspectives underpinning evaluation.
  • It is important to attend to the ‘data visualization’ preferences and needs of the client. At the interesting crossroads of being an academic and a fledgling evaluator in an environment of biomedical researchers it was (at first) difficult to determine whether to present the evaluation findings through more traditional graphs and tables (found in scientific journals) or to use the latest data visualization techniques (see Stephanie Evergreen’s work). Based on the needs of the client we were able to achieve a blending of the two, and provide graphs that were both scientifically appropriate and visually appealing.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s GEDI Program and its interns. For more information on GEDI, see their webpage here: 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “GEDI Week: Erica Roberts on Organizational Culture and Internal Evaluation”

  1. Hello – Very interesting topic! I’m having trouble with the link for the Evaluation Tree – when I click on it, it takes me to compose a new email. Can you please advise where I can find the resource?

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