RoE TIG Week with EvaluATE: Funding Your Research on Evaluation Initiatives by Megan Zelinsky and Lyssa Wilson Becho

Hello! We are Megan and Lyssa from EvaluATE, the evaluation hub for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. NSF’s ATE program aims to promote the development of innovative programs for the education of technicians in the high-technology fields.

EvaluATE enhances evaluation capacity in the ATE community, including among project staff, evaluators, grant specialists, and college administrators, by providing open-access resources, webinars, newsletters, and information about all things evaluation. We also add to the empirical understanding of evaluation practice through research-on-evaluation efforts.

This week, we are excited to share examples and insights from EvaluATE’s research-on-evaluation (RoE) studies. But first we want to share some tips on funding RoE and developing an RoE portfolio.

While most evaluators value research on evaluation, it can be hard to fund these efforts- especially for those of us who are not in faculty positions. EvaluATE is an example of a grant-funded initiative that has integrated research on evaluation. We hope these tips will be helpful for your own research-on-evaluation efforts!

Hot Tips

  1. Leverage funder priorities. EvaluATE funds its research on evaluation by including RoE studies in our NSF ATE grant proposals. To do so effectively, we consider how these research initiatives align with NSF ATE’s funding priorities. We also consider our initiatives’ potential to provide timely and impactful information to those served by ATE.
  • Identify the “So what?” of your research. EvaluATE’s #1 priority in all its work is service to the ATE community. The same is true of our research-on-evaluation efforts. Before we look at funding or designing a new research initiative, we collaboratively consider how the results or findings of these studies may translate into support for the ATE community. While advancing research in the evaluation and community college spaces is also important, it is our second priority.
  • Develop criteria to guide strategic decision-making. For a lot of us, coming up with ideas for research-on-evaluation initiatives is the easy part! Deciding which initiatives to pursue and put resources toward can be a bit more difficult. At EvaluATE, we have been working to develop criteria so we can strategically decide which research initiatives are most timely or meaningful. We ask questions like, “What information is the ATE community asking for?” and “Do the answers to these questions exist anywhere else?” This process helps us narrow our ideas and options into one or more research initiatives that we can write into our next grant proposal.
  • Connect with others conducting research on evaluation. Did you know that AEA has a Research on Evaluation TIG? The RoE TIG has definitions of research on evaluation, helpful webinars on how to get started with RoE, and discussion boards for TIG members. We find it helpful to connect with others doing this type of work. Colleagues engaged in research on evaluation can help inspire, motivate, and encourage you along your RoE journey!  

This week you’ll hear from EvaluATE team members who are conducting research on various aspects of evaluation in ATE: EDI efforts, evaluation use, barriers in procuring an evaluator, and big data analysis techniques. Each of these studies has practical implications for improving the quality of evaluation in the ATE community, as well as better understanding the field of evaluation. You can learn more about EvaluATE and our research-on-evaluation efforts at evalu-ate.org.


The American Evaluation Association is hosting 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 AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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