SW TIG Week: Karen Anderson on How to Promote Evaluation at Meetings That are Not Evaluation Focused

Hi there, my name is Karen Anderson and I’m the Continuous Quality Improvement and Evaluation Coordinator at Families First in Atlanta, Georgia. In my spare time, I enjoy working with community groups and organizations that do not have evaluation capacity. It’s always a wonderful learning experience for me, as well as for the group or organization when we begin to discuss the possibilities of integrating evaluation into the work that they do.

Hot Tip: Don’t start the discussion using technical jargon. Develop a list of open ended questions, for example: “What information do you collect on your clients?” or “What information will help you to understand your clients even better?”

If information is being collected on clients, ask how it’s being analyzed, reported, and used. There are many entry points for evaluation.  The key is being flexible and a good listener to see where you can provide support.

Hot Tip: Do the best you can to make the evaluation a process, and not just an exercise to complete a report. The evaluation process and outcomes need to be useful and relevant to help with decision making along the way.

Hot Tip: Demystify the process by providing a general overview of evaluation, its benefits, and examples of reports you’ve completed in the past to provide a picture. Since we do evaluation everyday it is second nature to us, however, we can’t assume that everyone knows what we do and how it relates to the work that they do.

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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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