SEA Professional Development Week: Common Challenges In Evaluation by Dr. Michelle Chandrasekhar

Hello, again! My name is Dr. Michelle Chandrasekhar and I serve on the Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA) Executive Board. Every year in February, SEA holds an Annual Workshop that offers attendees networking opportunities and a variety of presentations and panel discussions on evaluation issues. At SEA’s 2015 Annual Workshop, the Board facilitated a round table discussion and asked participants to discuss common challenges encountered in conducting evaluations.

Hot Tips: Below is a summary of the observations and tips from SEA’s Workshop round table discussions. Overall, attendees indicated that evaluators need to know how to do the following:

  1. Talk about Evaluation.
  • Build buy-in and rapport – for example, use stories to explain numbers.
  • Create or find case studies or examples that help evaluators talk to others.
  • Communicate the value of evaluation to leadership.
  • Manage the politics – particularly in how data is presented or for analyzing sensitive data.

2. Plan for Good Evaluation.

  • Demonstrate cultural competence – this means going beyond language barriers.
  • Develop good logic models and get them validated up front.
  • Establish relationships among key people in the client’s organization, as well as among fellow evaluators who can help you problem solve.
  • Include front-line people in the conversation to find problems and solutions, or to review reports.
  • Make recommendations that use Return on Investment concepts.
  • Work within the confines of a grant rather than what the evaluator or client may want to do.

3. Manage Evaluations.

  • Manage multiple projects in various stages – use project management tools and update items in your toolbox (reports, communication protocols, client capacity building information).
  • Manage time and people to stay on track – understand the amount of effort needed for a project and that it isn’t practical to make it perfect.
  • Work within the budget (estimate the billable hours, time frame, and amount to charge) and include the client in the process.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the SEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from SEA Affiliate 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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