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GEDI Week: Strengthening an Evaluation Scholarship Pipeline: Reflections on the AEA GEDI Program Ashaki M. Jackson

Greetings from Los Angeles! I am AEA member and former GEDI Program Co-Director Ashaki M. Jackson, MFA, Ph.D. with a few notes on firming fellowships designed to increase the number of new, competent evaluators who begin their formal training during graduate studies.

During the six years that the Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) program has been in Claremont Graduate University’s care, we began each year with fundamental courses to launch graduate students on their 9-month immersion. Our goals with each cohort were to provide a sufficient introduction to evaluation theory and practice with a focus on culturally responsive methods; support scholars as they navigated an evaluation internship; make connections between classroom and field learning; link scholars with theorists, mentors and practitioners with sustained curiosity in the field; and help scholars create a useful set of products to begin a career portfolio. In sum, we wanted to engender enthusiasm for the field while infusing culturally responsive evaluation across the landscape.

We were equipped with what we needed (a library of publications; supportive AEA community members; funding to send scholars to annual meetings, conferences and seminars; etc.), but what more could we use? What does any evaluation training program need to successfully onboard and retain scholars to the evaluation pipeline?

Academic Credit Options. Scholars, who are in the last years of their masters and doctoral programs, complete fundamental coursework (offered by both the Claremont Evaluation Center and AEA) during the program year. Paths for academic credit can boost scholars’ portfolios and formally recognize AEA-based training.

Extended AEA Membership. Scholars’ memberships are sponsored or subsidized for the program year, however funding is steep the year following. Waived membership would ease scholars into continued AEA participation.

Paths into AEA. Ongoing ties to the association could be useful to program alumni’s growth in evaluation. Purposefully selected roles as executive board support, annual meeting design support, volunteer readers for association publications and the like can further root scholars in evaluative thinking and citizenship. HOT TIP: AEA topical interest groups are a great way to explore evaluation, build networks and stay abreast of new developments in the field.

As the program transitions to a capable George Mason University team, we offer these tools for program scholars and alumni:

Rad Resources: Visit Southern California!

Claremont Evaluation Center Professional Development Workshops in Evaluation

Keep learning!

We are big fans of the University of Illinois’s Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment and its conference, founded by AEA members.

Join a AEA Topical Interest Group.

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: http://www.eval.org/GEDI  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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