Welcome to aea365! Please take a moment to review our new community guidelines. Learn More.

Lessons Learned in Planning a Student-Led Evaluation Conference: Insights from the EViE Conference Planning Committee by Gabriel Keney

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.

Gabriel Keney and the logos for EViE and UNCG.

Hello AEA365 community! I’m Gabriel Keney, a Ph.D. student in the UNC Greensboro Educational Research Methodology Department (UNCG ERM) program evaluation track. Today, I would like to share some lessons I learned while collaboratively working with fellow students and faculty to plan a student-led evaluation conference.

I learned about the Emergent Voices in Evaluation Conference (EViE) when I co-presented a paper at the 2021 EViE Conference with Onyinyechuku, Malitsitso, and Grettel titled “Westernized Competencies in Evaluation Practice – Exploring African and Latin American Alternatives to the Underlying Values of Western Evaluation.” Participating in this conference made me feel like I belonged to the UNCG ERM community even before I arrived in America from Ghana, and I felt a sense of responsibility to contribute to future conferences. I eagerly joined the planning committee when the announcement came for us to plan the 2023 conference. Being part of the planning committee allowed me to appreciate the great work that goes into planning successful conferences.

Lessons Learned

Working as a member of the Publicity and Planning Committee with J.R. Moller, I created and published EViE Conference content on LinkedIn and Twitter. Here are some of the lessons learned that worked well for us, and we believe are transferable to your own teams and planning work:

  1. Begin with group norms: To arrive at our collectively agreed-upon destination we intentionally created an environment that will help support the work of the EViE Planning Committee Meetings.
  2. Develop a structure: Decide the meeting day, time, and frequency, form subcommittees, assign roles, and set expectations and timelines for key activities and milestones, including the conference theme, date, keynote speaker, format, etc. Regularly update the meeting minutes and communicate expectations for the next meeting ahead of time.
  3. Come prepared and be present: We encourage everyone to come to the Planning Meetings prepared to speak about their team’s work even if you aren’t slated to do so and actively engage verbally, virtually, and collaboratively to co-create and achieve group goals.
  4. Trust the team: Trust that individuals and committees are providing their best work and have thought carefully about their decisions. When something isn’t happening the way you think it should, approach the situation with curiosity instead of judgment. Examples include, “Can you help me understand how we came to this decision?” or “I am curious what other options we said no to.”
  5. Celebrate diversity: Be respectful and welcoming of the different experiences and backgrounds we come to this space with because as people are from different backgrounds they’re subject to act differently and think differently than you.
  6. Leverage social media: Social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, etc. offer an efficient and cost-effective way to increase our visibility and reach, build a stronger brand, and connect with our audience in a more meaningful way.
  7. Try the uncomfortable: Whether it is facilitating a meeting, taking the lead on a subcommittee project, providing feedback, or something else that is outside of your comfort zone; this is a space to give it a try! Be willing and ready to take responsibility and initiative. We are in this together!

Rad Resources

2023 EViE Conference: The 2023 will be held virtually on May 18th-19th (see our schedule here). Join us in fostering a collaborative and interactive experience by sharing your thoughts/questions with us on Twitter using #EViE2023. Your active participation is important in creating a dynamic and engaging conference. Let’s connect online and work together to make this conference a great success. Register here or visit our website for more information.

10 Steps for Establishing Team Norms

The Chatham House Rule

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.

1 thought on “Lessons Learned in Planning a Student-Led Evaluation Conference: Insights from the EViE Conference Planning Committee by Gabriel Keney”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.