Greetings! I’m Leslie Fierro, Assistant Clinical Professor of Evaluation at Claremont Graduate University and AEA Research on Evaluation TIG Chair. This week, aea365 is focusing on Research on Evaluation (RoE). As an avid fan of this topic, I’ll offer a working definition for RoE and provide some thoughts on where future fruitful research may emerge in our field.
- People don’t always know what we are talking about! If there is one thing I’ve learned as an evaluation capacity builder, evaluator, and professor engaging in RoE it’s that that the first question people ask about this topic is…”What is RoE?” To date, we do not have a central definition – although scholars are busily working on creating definitions as you read this entry! As a frame of reference, I’ll offer up a definition I developed to orient my students to this topic, “A research investigation that generates findings with the intended purpose of creating a stronger evidence base and infrastructure for the applied practice of evaluation.”
- We are too insular – let’s leverage information from other disciplines to stimulate RoE. When students embark on RoE it is a rare occurrence that they are not stunned at the lack of research available in evaluation to build upon. Although it is often refreshing to learn that the “world is our oyster” that isn’t always so comforting when the goal is to do something of interest, add to the literature, and well…move on. All hope is not lost, I find in RoE we are often a bit to insular. Why not pursue studies that integrate decades of research in other disciplines (e.g., cognitive psychology, adult learning theory) when creating new RoE studies?
Interested in doing RoE, but not sure where to start? Here are some examples of what we might call “Integrative Evaluation Science” to stimulate creative research ideas that build upon established work in other fields and have great potential to benefit our growing field!
- As early as 2003, in their article published in AJE—Beyond Use: Understanding Evaluation’s Influence on Attitudes and Action—Mel Mark and Gary Henry pushed our thinking to consider how we might leverage information from several disciplines (e.g., social psychology, public administration) to enhance our understanding of evaluation influence.
- In 2011 Mel Mark, Stewart Donaldson, and Bernadette Campbell edited a book Social Psychology and Evaluation, which provides several suggestions for integrating the world of social psychology and evaluation.
- And most recently in AJE Online First, Jane Buckley, Tom Archibald, Monica Hargraves, William Trochim tie the familiar evaluation concept of evaluative thinking to years of work in critical thinking in their article Defining and Teaching Evaluative Thinking: Insights from Research on Critical Thinking.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Research on Evaluation (ROE) Topical Interest Group Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our ROE 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.