Sheila B. Robinson on “Ancora Imparo Valutazione” (I am still learning evaluation)!

Hello! I’m Sheila B. Robinson, aea365’s Leader Volunteer Curator. I teach Program Evaluation Methods at University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education, and am a grant coordinator for Greece Central School District in Rochester, NY. In my spare time, I read, learn and blog about evaluation, and it’s no exaggeration to say I never come away from my computer, book, article on evaluation without  learning something. “Ancora imparo” is attributed to Michelangelo in his late 80s!

As I’m once again preparing my syllabus, I’m reflecting on a wealth of free and low-cost evaluation resources. Since I always want to improve the course for my students, I’m look for new readings and activities to ensure my course is up-to-date, and that my students learn about the “big names” and big issues in the evaluation community today.

Lesson Learned: I’m convinced evaluators are the most collegial, collaborative, and generous people ever, and I’m always impressed with how many of them are willing to share their knowledge and resources with everyone.

Hot Tips:

1.) Fill your toolbox! Susan Kistler, AEA’s Executive Director Emeritus, has contributed numerous aea365 posts on free or low-cost technology tools. Search her name, or glance through aea365 archive for links and descriptions.

2.) Join the conversations! Mentioned before, but definitely worth another look: AEA’s LinkedIn discussion, and EvalTalk – two places I’ve learned about the multitude of websites, textbooks, and articles on evaluation, many of which have made their way into my course. Here’s a link to a discussion on “Comprehensive set of websites on evaluation and research methods.” I recently asked EvalTalk for some “must-read journal articles for program evaluation students” and got great responses; some people even sent me their syllabi!  Cool trick: I’ve copied rich EvalTalk and LinkedIn discussions on a topic of interest (e.g. pre- and post-testing) to share with students as examples of the types of discussions evaluators have in “the real world” of evaluation work.

3.) Cull from collections! Who doesn’t love one-stop shopping? My favorite place for great collections is AEA’s site. Check out everything under the Reading, Learning, and Community tabs and all the links on the main page. Check out Evaluator and Evaluation blogs and evaluators on Twitter. Chris Lysy maintains a large collection of evaluation-related blogs at EvalCentral. Gene Shackman has amassed probably the largest collection of Free Resources for Program Evaluation and Social Research Methods.

4.) “Extend” your learning! Google “evaluation” + “extension” and find a universe of free tools and resources from university extension programs. Here are just a few:  University of Wisconsin-Extension, Penn State Extension, NC Cooperative Extension, K-State research and Extension. I stumbled upon this collection at University of Kentucky’s Program Development and Evaluation Resources.

Apprendimento felice! (Happy learning!)

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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