Sarah Gill on the Atlanta-area Evaluation Association Spring Social 2012

I’m Sarah Gill, membership chair for the Atlanta-area Evaluation Association (AaEA). Recently AaEA hosted a spring social. The event was inspired by the recent AEA 365 posts making predictions for the future of evaluation. Maureen Wilce, AaEA’s chair for professional development, and I thought the posts would inspire great conversation among our fellow evaluators  – and we were right!

To that end, we invited AaEA members to join us at a local restaurant for networking and discussion; 23 evaluators attended! The first portion of the meeting was devoted to socializing, during which time we asked people to “vote with their dots” on the various predictions. The responses made for fascinating discussion.

Cultural competence: we hope for cultural competence to be the norm. We feel strongly that community engagement is becoming an expectation of funders and new evaluators.  We see evaluators will play a critical role in building learning cultures, and we will need to be aware of our own “lenses” as we practice.

Internal evaluation: we agree that the trend to more internal evaluation will continue, and we can see a payoff in this for external evaluation. As organizational staffs increase familiarity with evaluation, they may become more receptive to external evaluation. And we believe that credibility brought by the external evaluator will remain important. We, too, hope for the end of the evaluation report, exchanged for greater use of new communication tools to increase evaluation’s reach.

Data mining: we hope that data mining will not replace other types of data collection. Data mining has its place; it’s efficient and can provide less biased information, but it also raises concerns about the ethics of accessing and using these data. It is also possible that such data will provide little useful information for small or new programs and may drive evaluation questions in expedient, but unimportant, directions.

We also have a few additional predictions:

  1. Evaluators will play the role of “watchdog” to help reign in the incorrect use or misuse of data and data analysis.
  2. Evaluation will play an increasingly critical role in program sustainability.
  3. As internal evaluation grows, evaluators and program staff will learn to appreciate each others’ skills and work together as peers.

Hot tip:  AEA affiliates are a great way to get involved and network with other evaluators in your community. Find yours here.

Rad resource:  aea365! It’s a fabulous resource to inspire discussions. And good food and beverage almost always improve the conversation.

Hot tip: If you live in the Atlanta area or are coming to the AEA/CDC Summer Institute, check out Atlanta-area Evaluation Association to learn about other activities as we celebrate our 10th anniversary.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on theaea365 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “Sarah Gill on the Atlanta-area Evaluation Association Spring Social 2012”

  1. Sarah, it looks like the group had a great time, based on your event photos! I wish I could have attended, but I will be at your upcoming professional development session on cultural competence. I’m very interested in seeing how cultural competence is being weaved into the work of evaluators.

  2. This was a great opportunity for discourse and learning new perspectives. Evaluators in the room had such varied experiences and viewpoints – making the discussion fruitful. I think each of us walked away knowing a little more about our own views and new ways that we may interact with others as evaluators. Kudos to those in attendance!

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