MESI Week: Melissa (Chapman) Haynes on Professionalization of Program Evaluation through Inclusive, Dynamic Training

My name is Melissa (Chapman) Haynes from the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Evaluation Studies Institute (MESI). At MESI we have a strong interest in building evaluation capacity within the university and the community through university-community partnerships. We are trying to build this capacity in a sustainable manner, and in a way that builds upon the practice of professional evaluators and creates scholarship of the teaching of and professionalization of program evaluation. One of our signature activities is a spring evaluation training that MESI has hosted for the past 20 years. This week of posts will highlight a bit of the key learning, resources, and tools presented at our 2015 event!

Lesson Learned: Creating an inclusive community of evaluators is essential but we are an incredibly diverse field – what brings us together? Through the week of MESI the Program Evaluation Standards (Yarbrough et al., 2010) and AEA Guiding Principles were utilized in various contexts. In particular, as a frame of reference as we decide which evaluation projects we will engage in, as a guide to navigation and negotiation of situations where ethics are in question, and to elevate the profession of evaluation in various contexts. We can and should continue to use and explore how these guiding documents can further the professionalization of our field.

Hot Tip: Donna Mertens provided some wonderful examples of the art and power of questioning during her workshop and keynote address. During her workshop she gave some examples of how she uses questioning to negotiate with clients. For example, if a potential client asked you to frame an evaluation in a manner that did not jive with the Program Evaluation Standards or AEA Guiding Principles, one might tell the client something like “I will not do X, but let’s talk about how we might frame an evaluation that will continue to serve the population of interest.”

Rad Resource: Some of the presenters have opted to share the information they presented on our website:

Rad Resource: A fun highlight of MESI is the annual “Top Ten” competition. For those new to MESI, Jean King develops a Top Ten statement – this year it was “How is program evaluation like interstellar space travel?” We had over 50 entries from MESI attendees – the Top Ten is located here. My favorite is #2 – “You’ve got to remember that YOU are the alien here.”

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating MESI Spring Training Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from evaluators who presented at or attended the Minnesota Evaluation Studies Institute Spring Training. 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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