OL-ECB Week: Natalie Cook and Tom Archibald on ICYMI*: Roundup of Recent Evaluation Capacity Building Research

(*ICYMI (“in case you missed it”) we present a few summaries of recent ECB literature to help you stay up-to-date on this quickly evolving aspect of evaluation.

Hi, we are Natalie Cook (Graduate Research Assistant) and Tom Archibald (Assistant Professor) from the Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education department at Virginia Tech.

We both practice and do research on evaluation capacity building (ECB). In recent years, ECB has been one of the fastest growing areas of research on evaluation. Yet with such a quickly growing body of literature, it is hard to keep up. Evaluation practitioners and researchers alike often lament either not having access to the evaluation literature, or not having time to consult it.

Rad Resource: Four Recent ECB Publications

In “Evaluation Capacity Building in the Context of Military Psychological Health: Utilizing Preskill and Boyle’s Multidisciplinary Model,” Lara Hilton and Salvatore Libretto present the need for ECB in the field of military psychological health. Hilton and Libretto apply Preskill and Boyle’s multidisciplinary ECB model, which they found highly applicable their context. The authors explain however, that “while there was high utilization of ECB activities by program staff, there was misaligned evaluative thinking, which ultimately truncated sustainable evaluation practice.”

In the most recent volume of Evaluation and Program Planning, Sophie Norton, Andrew Milat, Barry Edwards, and Michael Giffin offer a “narrative review of strategies by organizations for building evaluation capacity.” They sought to: (1) identify ECB strategies implemented by organizations and program developers, and (2) describe successes and lessons learned, finding that successful ECB involves “a tailored strategy based on needs assessment, an organizational commitment to evaluation and ECB, experiential learning, training with a practical element, and some form of ongoing technical support within the workplace.” The authors call for more “rigorous” studies of ECB.

Beverly Parsons (2014 AEA President) along with colleagues Chris Lovato, Kylie Hutchinson, and Derek Wilson discuss an ECB model which embeds evaluative thinking and practice in the context of higher education. They describe Communities of Learning, Inquiry, and Practice (CLIPs) as a type of community of practice and discuss how the CLIPs model was implemented in a community college in the U.S. and a medical school in Canada. Dr. Parsons has also reported on this work on aea365 here.

Finally, Audrey Rorrer presents an evaluation capacity building toolkit for principal investigators of undergraduate research experiences. Toolkits, which served to balance the need for standardized assessment as well as account for individual program contexts, included instructional materials about conducting evaluation, standardized applicant management tool, and a modulated outcomes measure.  Rorrer indicates that “Lessons learned included the imperative of understanding the evaluation context, engaging stakeholders, and building stakeholder trust.”

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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