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Needs Assessment TIG Week: Letting Your Needs Assessment Skills Shine by Sue Hamann

Hello and Welcome to our TIG’s AEA365 sponsored week.  My name is Sue Hamann.  I have worked as an Evaluator for more than 40 years and am currently employed at the National Institutes of Health as a Health Scientist and Science Evaluation Officer. 

My boss recently mentioned her interest in having a root cause analysis conducted.  She was surprised when I told her I could do that.  Many people I meet do not realize that needs assessment and program planning are part of the skill set of trained evaluators.  Here are some ways I try to emphasize the range of evaluation activities I can provide.

(1) Include the evaluation domains (AKA the evaluation hierarchy, defined by Rossi, Lipsey, and Henry (2019, pp 16-17)) in evaluation plans and reports and in curricula:

  • need for the program
  • program theory and design
  • program process
  • program impact
  • program efficiency

(2) Advocate for formal needs assessments to be conducted as part of program planning, using the information and the techniques of systematic inquiry for needs assessment and program planning described by Jim Altschuld, Belle Ruth Witkin, and their colleagues in their multiple books and documents.

(3) Use a template for program logic models and evaluation logic models that emphasizes the tailoring of evaluation activities to the stage of a program or other evaluand:

(4) Ensure that my skills are fresh and current in all the evaluation domains.  At age 65, I completed a master’s degree in applied economics so I could evaluate program costs and efficiency.

(5) Refer to my work as “evaluation and program planning” instead of just “program evaluation.”

Rad Resources for Evaluation Planning:
  • Altschuld JW, Ed. (2010). The Needs Assessment Kit, volumes 1-5. Sage.
  • Altschuld JW, Witkin BR. (2000). From Needs Assessment to Action: Transforming Needs into Solution Strategies. Sage Publications, Inc.
  • Rossi PH, Lipsey MW, Henry GT. (2019). Evaluation: A Systematic Approach, 8th Edition. Sage Publishing.
  • Wambeam RA. (2015) The Community Needs Assessment Workbook. Lyceum Books, Inc.
  • Witkin BR, Altschuld JW. (1995). Planning and Conducting Needs Assessments: A Practical Guide. Sage Publications.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Needs Assessment (NA) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Needs Assessment Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our NA TIG members. 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.

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