Michelle Baron on What Evaluators Have to Be Thankful For

Hi, my name is Michelle Baron. I am the Associate Director of The Evaluators’ Institute, an evaluation training organization, and the chair of the curating team for aea365.

On this Thanksgiving Day in the United States, there are many things for which evaluators have to be thankful. Four topics come readily to mind:

1. Automation: Cyberspace abounds with evaluation software designed to make the lives of evaluators and organizations easier.

Rad Resource #1: Qualitative software such as NVivo, MAXQDA, and Atlas ti, help to bring clarity and meaning to thematic analysis.

Rad Resource #2: Quantitative Software such as SPSS, SAS, and Systat help to analyze and present data with precision.

2. Strong Networks: In addition to clients and stakeholders, evaluators need the connections of professional colleagues and associates to explore new ideas and reinvigorate tried and true techniques.

Hot Tip #1: The American Evaluation Association (AEA) has over 6500 members available for collaboration and conversation. In addition to face-to-face contact at their annual conferences, AEA members can access articles, webinars, and other online resources at their fingertips.

Hot Tip #2: Consider joining one of 25 local affiliates of AEA. With a nationwide network, there is likely an affiliate in your area.

3. Stakeholder Diversity: Whether you’re an internal evaluator, an independent consultant, or somewhere in between, you likely benefit from the new perspectives various stakeholders bring as part of an evaluation project.

Cool Trick: Allowing stakeholder ideas to shift your thinking helps you build your reservoir of evaluation ideas and techniques you can use in any number of settings.

4. Improvement Potential: Evaluators need professional development too, and luckily, there are a number of training venues from which to choose.

Rad Resource #3: The American Evaluation Association’s Summer Institute sports over 42 sessions and workshops to promote theoretical and practical evaluation experience.

Rad Resource #4: The Evaluators’ Institute (TEI) offers over 38 courses in evaluation theory and practice in both comprehensive and customized training environments.

Rad Resource #5: Claremont Graduate University’s professional development workshops allow evaluators to hone their skills in a variety of topics.

I hope this evaluation feast benefits you at not only your dinner table, but also the whole year through.

This contribution is from the aea365 Tip-a-Day Alerts, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

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