Liz Zadnik on Not Having Anything Radical to Say, Just a Desire to Show People How to Evaluate and Have Fun Doing It

Hey there!  Liz Zadnik here, Outreach Coordinator for the tip-a-day blog and sometimes Saturday poster.  As you may know from some of my previous posts, my primary job is not as an evaluator.  I like to consider myself an Evaluation Enthusiast – bringing my love of evaluation to others in the anti-sexual violence movement.  

Now for some (not us, of course), “evaluation” and “fun” are not words often used in the same sentence.  I’ve made it my mission over the past few years to infuse all my trainings with fun activities that explore the variety of ways evaluation can enrich practice and capture meaningful work.  

Rad Resource: I can’t say enough about Hallie Preskill and Darlene Russ-Eft’s book Building Evaluation Capacity: 72 Activities for Teaching and Training.  I’m also a big fan of “thinking with things” and encouraging adult learners to play as a way of getting to creative problem-solving.  These approaches have also helped training participants associate a fun atmosphere with learning about evaluation, data, and research.

Part of being an Evaluation Enthusiast also means connecting with researchers and professional evaluators to fill in gaps and stay informed.  I know there is much to be learned and not enough time in the day to learn it all!  

Rad Resource:  The National Sexual Violence Resource Center recently hosted an xCHANGE forum with two brilliant evaluators.  Discussion threads included topics on alternatives to the pre/post-test approach, evaluating prevention with young children, and assessing community-level prevention efforts.  The forum was an opportunity for practitioners to connect with one another and hear from practice-minded evaluators.  Bridging that gap is incredibly important as we strive to inform practice with research and infuse practice into research.

The xCHANGE forum got me thinking about other ways evaluators and organizations can engage practitioners in a more widespread way using social media.  What about hosting a twitter talk or town hall for to provide introductory technical assistance?  Using themes and hashtags like #writinggoodsurveys or #evalbasics could help share best practices while also connecting practitioners and evaluators.  

So, dear AEA365 readers, how do you bring fun and enthusiasm to your work?   

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 “Liz Zadnik on Not Having Anything Radical to Say, Just a Desire to Show People How to Evaluate and Have Fun Doing It”

  1. Liz,

    Thank you for your reminder to have fun while doing evaluation. The late Jerry Walker, a past Board member for the Ohio Program Evaluators’ Group (OPEG) and AEA member, would remind us at most OPEG events to remember to have fun. Evaluation is a learning process and can be great fun.


Leave a Reply to Dayn Kirksey Cancel Reply

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.