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



SW TIG Week: Carl Brun on Teaching Evaluation to Social Work/Human Service Students

Greetings!  I am Carl Brun, a social worker turned professor turned evaluator.  I have taught in the social work department at Wright State University in Dayton, OH for 21 years.

I teach evaluation in every research methods course I teach, whether it be in a human services course or an undergraduate or graduate social work course.  Students can relate to evaluation as an actual activity that occurs in social services compared to research which they see only happening in universities.

Lessons Learned:  Have students do evaluation.  Partner with community agencies to have students apply their evaluation skills to help develop and implement evaluations.  In one graduate level course, my students conducted a door-to-door needs assessment.  Their efforts helped the agency receive a $733,000 grant to begin a federally qualified health clinic.  See

Hot Tip:  Demystify evaluation in the very first class.  I have students discuss ways they use research in their everyday lives to make decisions, such as “how did you research coming to this university or choosing this major?”  I ask them to think of ways they have evaluated others (ex. student evaluations of professors) and been evaluated (ex. by a supervisor).

Hot Tip:  SCREAM.  This is the acronym I use to emphasize values I support for every evaluation:  Measure Strengths. Be Culturally competent.  Evaluate within the Resources you have.  Ethics, ethics, ethics.  Get Agreement from all stakeholders on all aspects of the evaluation.  Measure Multiple systems levels.

Hot Tip: I simplify research methods by discussing three types of evaluation questions and three types of data collection.  Exploratory questions = qualitative methods. Explanatory questions = quantitative methods. Descriptive questions = both.  All questions can be answered by asking questions, observation, or secondary data analysis.  I have a chart that puts these pieces together to help the students develop their research design.

Resources:  There are many electronic discussion forums in which teachers share their syllabi and teaching tips.  Among the ones I use are AEA’s Evaltalk, and one established primarily for social work educators  (  I love talking about teaching evaluation.  Feel free to contact me at

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating SW TIG Week with our colleagues in the Social Work Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our SW TIG 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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