AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators



Susan Kistler on How to Win a Book by Identifying the Essence of Evaluation

I am Susan Kistler, AEA’s Executive Director. After my junior year in high school, I attended a short summer program in between working 50 hours weeks at a health food restaurant. The restaurant t-shirts read “Something Natural…and Something Else” on a sea of earthy green. The summer program searched for something similarly pithy. After a week of intense discussion, we chose “MASPERS do it with Elements of Style” in deference to the Strunk and White grammar guide that was a required purchase for all attendees.

What pithy phrase captures the essence of the evaluator or evaluation? Evaluators do it by the numbers? Nope…we’re multi-method. Evaluation is the vocation devoted to triangulation? Doesn’t quite have that je ne sais quoi. As you can see, I’m not very good at this.

Lesson Learned: Pithy is an adjective meaning “brief, forceful, and meaningful in expression; full of vigor, substance, or meaning; terse; forcible” (thank you That’s what we’re looking for – short, sweet, and compelling.

Hot Tip: Enter your ideas for a pithy phrase exemplifying the essence of the evaluator or evaluation in the comments section for this post. We’ll randomly draw two entries to win a book from the great AEA prize vault, supported by our colleagues at SAGE Publications. And, the very best, might even get to see her or his entry on a t-shirt.

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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  • Chad Green · July 8, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Come stay with what can’t stay.
    Trust only what fades away.
    Skies wish they’d made us button-eyed.
    In autumn only man is heavy-eyed.
    Such eyes: sky-storming wings.
    …We first don’t know we’re things.
    When we do, we’re not.
    When we’re not, we wake as rings:
    A circle, not a dot.
    Are we a sick-gene’s blunder?
    Call us the unthing wonder.
    – Peter Viereck (Unthings)


  • Diane Dunet · May 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Evaluators help you find your questions…and your answers.


  • Charlene K · May 22, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Nothing outlasts the Evaluator. It keeps going and going and going…


    [Front of shirt]: I have high standards
    [Back of shirt]: Utility, feasibility, propriety, accuracy…


    [With a picture of an athlete looking sad on a bench]: Evaluators are used to benchmarks


  • Heidi Erstad · May 22, 2011 at 7:14 am

    We help you measure what you treasure…

    ( or measure close what you treasure most )


    Your outcomes are our incomes! 😉


  • Irene Guijt · May 20, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Evaluators give value.


  • Carey · May 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Evaluation–truth, justice, and action!

    Evaluation. . . Get a clue! (okay, maybe not!)

    Evaluate, Cogitate, Activate.


  • Chad Green · May 18, 2011 at 10:21 am

    A subtle chain of countless rings
    The next unto the farthest brings;
    The eye reads omens where it goes,
    And speaks all languages the rose;
    And, striving to be man, the worm
    Mounts through all the spires of form.
    – Ralph Waldo Emerson (Nature)


  • Steve · May 17, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    My $.02:

    – Change the nation through evaluation!
    – Evaluation: Progress with purpose
    – Evaluation: Practice with Purpose
    – I think therefore I am, I EVALUATE therefore I understand
    – Be cool: Evaluate, you fool! <— just kidding 🙂


  • Lyn Gordon · May 16, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Evaluation: The trends of the world as we know it.


    Evaluators make > a statistically significant difference.


  • Stuart Henderson · May 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    What a creative bunch of suggestions. Mine is a little less sophisticated:

    Who, What, Where, When, Why and How? – Evaluate

    I must confess that the first part is sung on the cartoon “Busytown” that my 5 year old loves.


  • Asil Ozdogru · May 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Evaluation: For your evidence-based decision making needs


  • Susan Sloan · May 16, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Evaluation…the touchstone profession!


  • Edie Cook · May 16, 2011 at 11:35 am

    The Difference Between Bad, Good, Better Decisions? EVALUATION


  • Matt · May 16, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Evaluators make logical models.

    Evaluators question the answers.

    Evaluation cures stagnation.

    Outcomes got your down? Evaluate!


  • Jennifer Zipoy · May 16, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Evaluators do it with stakeholders…


  • Paul · May 16, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Evaluation: Not just another add on.


  • Michelle Searle · May 16, 2011 at 8:38 am

    At our Assessment and Evaluation Group (AEG) at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON, CA we have just had t-shirts made! These t-shirts celebrate AEG and the newest formation of a group of Graduate Researchers in Assessment & Program Evaluation. The name is a mouthful – but it spells out GRAPE and we though there was some potential with that.

    Our t-shirts have a small university and AEG logo on the front with a large bunch of grapes filled with a spectrum of evaluation related words on the back. Underneath the grapes is the phrase – A Grand Cru!

    Grand Cru is a wine classification … with loose translation it means good growth to indicate a place where good grapes can be found for making wine.

    Check out the AEA auction to place your bid on one of these sensational t-shirts!


  • Wei · May 15, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Evaluators are evidence-based artists.


  • Heidi Erstad · May 15, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    How about…

    …. Evaluators treasure the measure….


    …Evaluators measure for pleasure…


    …Evaluator: Your best friend on a summary day


  • Stephanie Evergreen · May 15, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Evaluation… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger =)


  • Mary Piontek · May 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Helping people do what they do…better.


  • JC · May 15, 2011 at 2:37 pm


    …Using Curiosity To Improve the World.

    …Reality Testing Made Useful.

    …It’s a Process…Beyond Books and Reports!

    ..but I still hope for a new book! 🙂

    Happy Weekend.


  • Connie Maples · May 15, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Evaluation: The art and science of judgement.


  • Colin Gerber · May 15, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Evaluators do it to make it better.


  • Admin comment by Susan Kistler · May 15, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Mohamad, Dorian, Sheron – great ideas!

    Dorian, yes! Something Natural in Nantucket (where I grew up). I worked there for four years in the 80s through high school – front counter, prep cook, baker, even scallop opener in the off-season. I still have to have my sandwich fix whenever I go back to visit.


  • Sheron Johnson · May 15, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Evaluation: Data-based decision-making for Real-world decision-makers


  • Dorian · May 14, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Evaluators Change the World! One Program at a Time

    I don’t think I’m very good at this either.

    Something Natural in Nantucket? Great homemade bread. I have one of their t-shirts too, but I think it must be a different version.


  • Mohamad Hasan Mohaqeq Moein · May 14, 2011 at 9:42 am

    The essence of evaluator & evaluation are liberation and empowerment.


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