Getting Ready for the Conference with the AEA Guiding Principles by Leanne Kallemeyn

My name is Leanne Kallemeyn, and I am currently a member of the AEA Guiding Principles Working Group.  As we get ready for the 2020 virtual AEA conference, I want to address a change that was planned prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you submitted a proposal, you may recall that you were asked to indicate which AEA Guiding Principle(s)—systematic inquiry, competence, integrity, respect for people, and/or common good and equity—you would address.  The conference is an opportunity for both attendees and presenters to engage in professional development and learning about ethical practice.


Preparing for professional development:  Take 15 minutes a month to identify ethical issues you are encountering with evaluation projects, individually or with a team.  Are you wondering whether your practices are culturally responsive?  Have you noticed that stakeholders are not using findings?  Document these ethical issues in notes or audio memos.

Identifying sessions:  Revisit your notes or audio memos.  Then, read the AEA Guiding Principles.  Which Principles would be most helpful for you to address?  You will be able to search for sessions on the website and in the app based on the Principles.

Consulting with colleagues:  Often, the best professional development is a conversation with a colleague or mentor.  With a virtual conference, it may feel more difficult to do this than if the conference was in-person.  Be intentional.  Attend a Topical Interest Group meeting or other opportunities to meet new colleagues.  If you already have colleagues and mentors through AEA, set up a phone call or virtual meeting. 

Use these opportunities to discuss ethical issues you are having in practice. Tiffany Smith, Patrick Barlow, John Peters, and Gary Skolits outline the DATA model to guide reflective practice.  After describing your situation fully, utilize the Guiding Principles to analyze the situation, theorize about how to handle it, and justify the actions you take based on your practical theory to colleagues and stakeholders.


Here are some ways to integrate the Principles:

  • In an overview slide that identifies the goals of your presentation, identify and reference relevant Principles.
  • If your work involves sharing an evaluation project and describing your processes, utilize the Principles to explain and justify your practice.
  • If your work involves sharing an ethical issue you encountered, explain it utilizing the Principles.
  • If your work involves providing recommendations or new directions to the field, be sure to align them explicitly with the Principles.
  • If the format of your session allows for interaction, consider discussion questions to help the audience link the topic to the Principles.

Rad Resource:

Smith, T. L., Barlow, P. B., Peters, J. M., & Skolits, G. J. (2015). Demystifying reflective practice: Using the DATA model to enhance evaluators’ professional activities. Evaluation and Program Planning52, 142-147.

This post is part of an occasional series on the AEA Guiding Principles. Each post in the series was contributed by a member of the AEA Guiding Principles Working Group. 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.

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