Sheila B Robinson on My 3 Most Remarkable Evaluation Moments

Greetings! I’m Sheila B Robinson, aea365’s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor. Recently, Sara Vaca shared her 3 most remarkable evaluation moments and challenged the rest of us to share ours, so here are my 3 moments!

Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments. – Rose Kennedy

1. Program evalu-what? My doctoral work in Educational Leadership was focused on Professional Development. One day, a classmate mentioned something she learned in her “program evaluation” course. I had never heard that term but was intrigued. I enrolled in the course the following semester and was hooked from Day 1 (the first article we read was Building the Evaluation Capacity of a School District by Jean King). At the same time, my university created a Certificate in Program Evaluation and I’m proud to be among the first to have earned it. I’ve now been teaching Program Evaluation courses there for 8 years, one of my favorite and most rewarding experiences.

2. Tweet-endipity? Within a month of becoming a blogger and active tweeter, I answered a tweet from Kim Firth Leonard, who was looking for a collaborator to co-author blog posts on survey design. I didn’t know Kim, but was excited by her invitation and share her interests in both survey design and blogging, so I took a chance. That was over two years ago, and despite living on opposite coasts in different time zones, we’ve co-authored several blog articles (here, here, here, and here) and co-presented what turned out to be a standing-room-only skill-building session on survey design at Evaluation 2015 in Denver, CO where we met in person for the first time! We now have even bigger collaborative projects in the works. I’m truly honored to have the pleasure of working with Kim.

3. We’re go for launch! On December 31, 2009, John LaVelle welcomed loyal readers (well, there weren’t really readers quite yet) to aea365 Tip-A-Day By and For Evaluators. I just happened to look at AEA’s website that day and noticed it. Y’know that feeling you get when you see something new and you just know it will have an deep and lasting impact? Yeah, that’s the feeling I got. I became a daily reader, and have learned more about evaluation from these (nearly 2000!) brief articles and links to other evaluation-related sites than any other single source I can name. I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to be the Lead Curator (big shout out to Susan Kistler for that!) so that not only do I get an insider’s early peek at all posts, but it has put me in touch with some of the most interesting, gifted, and and generous authors in this field. When I tell people this is a labor of love, I mean it.

What are YOUR 3 moments? Please consider sharing them in an aea365 post!

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.

3 thoughts on “Sheila B Robinson on My 3 Most Remarkable Evaluation Moments”

  1. My 3 most remarkable evaluation moments:

    1) When I was in the Public Policy graduate school program at University of Maryland, thinking about which area of Concentration to go into. Someone recommended that I concentrate in Program Evaluation. They said when you get expertise in evaluation and research methods, you can apply those methods to analyzing any type of public policy. I’m very glad to have taken their advice. I’ve had the chance to apply my program evaluation knowledge to many interesting areas of public policy and programs, including employment development, a leadership program, health care, human services, aging and disability issues, inter-racial dialogue, education/STEM, and more.

    2) When I was exploring what to focus on as a dissertation topic. My adviser told me of someone he knew who was leading a non-profit program that wanted an evaluation of their inter-racial dialogue and action program, so they could use that information to plan future programming on that topic. I learned so much conducting that evaluation research for my doctoral dissertation.

    3) Three years ago, when I decided to trade my position as a Consultant at a large consulting firm to start my own independent evaluation business. I’ve gained much new experience and knowledge and am enjoying it very much. A risk I’m very glad I took.

    1. I am really interested in program evaluation, I took a class and got hooked. I’m starting a masters program in sociology. Plan on going to a workshop in August from Claremont university. Any other tips on how to gain hands on experience in the field?

      1. Sheila Robinson

        Hi Heather! My best advice is to try to do evaluation-related projects for your coursework, or even volunteer to do some evaluation work for a local firm. Networking at conferences, local affiliate meetings, and other professional development events are great ways to meet other evaluators who also may be able to help. Best wishes!

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