OL-ECB Week: Tom Archibald on Rad Resources for the Evaluation Capacity Building (ECB) Commons

I’m Tom Archibald, Assistant Professor in the Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education department at Virginia Tech and Chief of Party of the USAID/Education and Research in Agriculture project in Senegal.

I’m also Program Co-Chair for the OL-ECB TIG; as Sally Bond mentioned here on aea365 yesterday, as a TIG we are excited to develop an ECB Commons that will be a publically-available clearinghouse for pertinent and helpful ECB resources. While the Commons is not yet up and running, we’ve begun collecting resources that either (1) directly support ECB practice (e.g., activities to teach logic models, such as Hallie Preskill and Darlene Russ-Eft’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Exercise), or (2) provide clear, accessible help on evaluation issues, and as such can also be used in ECB practice.

Below, we share just a few resources that will no doubt be featured prominently in the ECB Commons. We hope anyone who is engaged in ECB will find these resources immediately helpful.

One caveat: As Tom Schwandt has pointed out (and as my colleagues and I have reiterated), the proliferation of evaluation toolkits is great, but is also potentially ineffective or even dangerous in the absence of evaluative thinking. With good ECB facilitation, the resources below can promote evaluative thinking and thus better evaluation.

Rad Resource:

BetterEvaluation is the product of an international collaboration to improve evaluation practice, and is probably the most comprehensive resource and knowledge base on evaluation on the web. In addition to the seven-stage Rainbow Framework for program evaluation, the site includes a growing encyclopedia of approaches to evaluation (e.g., appreciative inquiry, developmental evaluation, realist evaluation), with links to selected resources for each approach, as well as coverage of a variety of special topics.

Rad Resource:

University of Wisconsin Extension’s division of Program Development and Evaluation has a long history of developing resources for Evaluation Capacity Building.  The website is currently under construction, but instructional materials can still be found under the tab for UW-Cooperative Extension Publications.  The Quick Tips tab is also full of excellent resources that non-evaluators can easily understand.

Rad Resource:

The Voluntary Organization of Professional Evaluators (VOPE) Institutional Capacity Toolkit, compiled by EvalPartners, is a collection of curated descriptions, tools, advice, examples, software and toolboxes developed by VOPEs and other organizations working to support non-profit organizations.

Rad Resource:

The Systems Evaluation Protocol along with its free online companion software, the Netway, were developed by the Cornell Office for Research on Evaluation to offer step-by-step systems evaluation-influenced evaluation planning support to ECB facilitators and non-evaluators

Do you know of other resources not listed here? Please post a comment to let everyone know about them!

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.


3 thoughts on “OL-ECB Week: Tom Archibald on Rad Resources for the Evaluation Capacity Building (ECB) Commons”

  1. Tom writes about evaluative thinking above: “With good ECB facilitation, the resources below can promote evaluative thinking and thus better evaluation.”

    I work for Catholic Relief Services and we have been working with both Tom and Jane Buckley for the last three years to pilot evaluative thinking in two country programs (Ethiopia and Zambia); we are now in the process of ‘scaling-up’. As it happens, our work was triggered by another aea365 post (dated April 29, 2012: Tom Archibald and Jane Buckley on Evaluative Thinking: The ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’ of Evaluation Capacity Building and Evaluation Practice)!

    If evaluative thinking is of interest to you, please see the short videos on this topic that we have recently produced. You can find them here: http://www.crs.org/our-work-overseas/how-we-work/our-commitment-monitoring-evaluation-accountability-and-learning

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