OL-ECB Week: Laura Keene on Activities for Evaluation Training

Hello! My name is Laura Keene, owner of Keene Insights, a one-woman consulting shop based in sunny Los Angeles, California. Over the past nine years, I’ve worked as both an internal and an external evaluator in a variety of settings. For many organizations, especially smaller nonprofits, working with me is their first introduction to evaluation. The success of these projects hinges on good capacity building as I work to overcome their fears and give them the tools they need to make design decisions and use findings. (See Reid Zimmerman’s post for a great description of evaluation fears).

Sometimes this work requires sessions that are solely focused on training. Other times we move back and forth between learning, discussion, and decision making. In either case, I try to integrate activities that tap into adult-learning principles and actively engage the group as much as possible. This makes the training more effective and much more fun.

Hot Tips:

In the excitement of planning great activities, don’t forget to keep these basic training principles in mind:

  • Put yourself in the shoes of your participants. What is their background? What is their perspective on the topic? What do they know already? What are they expecting to gain from the training overall?
  • Keep the purpose of the activity in the forefront. What’s the main point? Why does it matter? All components should support the purpose.
  • Be as prepared as humanly possible. Knowing the activity inside and out gives you the flexibility to handle the unexpected and adapt where needed.

Rad Resource:

Building Evaluation Capacity by Hallie Preskill and Darlene Russ-Eft is a great source for activities and ideas. It has step-by-step instructions for activities that focus on everything from exploring the differences between evaluation and research to understanding and interpreting data. Handouts included!

For a more comprehensive training guide check out Bruce Klatt’s Ultimate Training Workshop Handbook.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Organizational Learning & Evaluation Capacity Building (OL-ECB) TIG Week with our colleagues in the OL-ECB AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our OL-ECB 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.


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