OL-ECB Week: Lisa Richardson on Coaching to Build Capacity

My name is Lisa Richardson and I am the internal Improvement Advisor/Evaluator for the UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS), which in addition to coordinating the collaborative activities of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), provides leadership in many aspects of child trauma policy, practice, and training. Online surveys are a favored NCTSN tool, particularly for the collaborative development and evaluation of network products. By last count, over 600 surveys have been done since 2006!

This plethora of surveys has become an unexpected and successful mechanism to enhance evaluation and organizational learning. In the past two years, our evaluation team has taken on very few surveys ourselves and instead given over the process to NCCTS staff and NCTSN groups. We made a previously recommended review process required and increased technical assistance to augment capacity.

Approaching every review as an educational opportunity is the cornerstone to this process. The goal is not only to produce a well-designed survey but also enhance staff member’s ability to create better ones in the future. Coaching builds on staff’s intrinsic passion for working in the child trauma field and for doing collaborative work. Evaluative thinking is reinforced by coaching and shared learning over time.

We have seen the quality of surveys improve tremendously (along with response rates), larger more complicated surveys are being undertaken, and I now receive more queries about using different tools to answer their questions.

Lessons Learned:

  • Put comments in writing and in context. Be clear about required verses suggested changes.
  • Provide alternatives and let the person or group decide. Walk them through the implications of choices and the influence it would have on their survey or data and then get out of the way!
  • Have everyone follow the same rule. My surveys are reviewed as are those developed with input from renowned treatment developers.
  • Build incrementally and use an individualized approach. A well-done survey is still an opportunity for further development.

Rad Resource: Qualtrics , the online survey solution we use is user-friendly and sophisticated. When consulting on technical issues, I often link to technical pages on their excellent website. User Groups allow us to share survey template, questions, messages, and graphics, increasing efficiency and consistency.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Organizational Learning and Evaluation Capacity Building (OL-ECB) Topical Interest Group Week. 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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