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

TAG | affiliates

Hello, I am Matt Feldmann, the principal researcher and owner of Goshen Education Consulting, Inc. (http://www.gosheneducationconsulting.com). I am a member of the Chicago Evaluation Association and the President of the Evaluation Association of St. Louis (EASL).

I began my local affiliate experience as a member of the Chicagoland Evaluation Association because I had contracts in Northern Illinois and Chicago and because there wasn’t a local affiliate in St. Louis. I like to joke that I was the furthest suburb south of Chicago. (The really funny part is that there are so many suburbs of Chicago that most of the CEA members never got the joke and really thought that Edwardsville was a legitimate suburb.) Check out the following map.

Map showing Chicago and Edwardsville, IL

Hot Tip: Actively Engage other Affiliates

EASL is officially becoming a non-profit corporation this summer 2018. In many ways EASL has developed through my active participation with CEA and by assistance from CEA leaders. CEA has actively encouraged me by featuring me as a speaker for the annual Jazzin’ at the Shedd event which gave me exposure to many of the members. They further provided by-laws and support as we went through the processes for development.

Lesson Learned: Think Creatively about Programming

A great experience has been to develop a shared regional speaker series between EASL, CEA and the Indiana Evaluation Association. I have presented a short version of a pre-conference workshop about introductory independent evaluation skills in both Chicago and Indianapolis and in exchange EASL has received a workshop from Asma Ali (president of CEA) on mentoring new and emerging evaluators.  Leah Neubauer (former president of CEA) will present a workshop in September on culturally responsive evaluation and we will host Mindy Hightower King (Indiana Evaluation Association) in late fall.

Rad Resource: Local Affiliate Collaborative (LAC)

Get to know the LAC by visiting this AEA LINK. The group has a well-organized conference call monthly that promotes group development and that has resulted in a pre-conference workshop for local affiliate leaders.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Chicagoland Evaluation Association (CEA) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from CEA 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.

·

Welcome to the Chicagoland Evaluation Association’s (CEA) week of AEA 365. We are Asma Ali, President and Leah C. Neubauer, Past President of CEA. CEA begin many years ago as a forum for evaluation professionals and students in the Chicagoland area to network, exchange ideas and knowledge, and participate in professional development activities that promote excellence in evaluation.

CEA as an AEA Local Affiliate

As the lead post for this week, we offer insights and resources about AEA Local Affiliates. Local Affiliates are our linkage to a network of other local evaluators and evaluations. CEA has benefitted tremendously in the last year from its participation in Local Affiliate activities. Our interactions with the Local Affiliate Groups have supported our learning about successful affiliate strategies, facilitated new programming and professional connections, and introduced us to inspiring evaluators throughout AEA. As a result, CEA has expanded programming, updated its communications strategy, and revitalized its member rosters.

Affiliates as Evaluator Learning Spaces

As evaluators, how do we create opportunities to learn, grow and enrich our practice?  What happens in our post-formal education and training lives to facilitate new learning and growth?   Through the lens of adult and continuing education, affiliates function as local communities of practice (CoP) and homegrown entities that promote various types of learning and growth within and among evaluators.

CEA member blogs this week

One benefit of our participation has been an expanded national and local evaluation communities of practice (CoP), which are featured throughout this week’s CEA blog. CEA has organized a stimulating week of posts that address the evaluation-related work of our members including topics on: local affiliate experiences, after school programming and youth voices in evaluation, a new network for Latina Researchers, evaluating community engagements, and sexual and gender minority communities (SGM). This is our third week of featured posts.  Check out our previous work here.

Rad Resource #1:  CEA Affiliate Website.  Are you in the Chicagoland and surrounding area, looking to collaborate with someone based in Chicago, or interested in our affiliate work and professional development opportunities?  Check out the CEA website or email Asma (CEA President) at asma.ali1@gmail.com for more information.

Rad Resource #2:  AEA Local Affiliates.   Are you involved in your local AEA affiliate?  A list of affiliates, contact information, websites, conference archives, helpful links and a variety of evaluation websites can be found here: https://www.eval.org/affiliate.

Rad Resource # 3:  Local Affiliate Collaborative.

As CEA Leadership, we join folks on the Local Affiliate Collaborative (LAC) Steering Committee monthly calls to share support, resources and expertise.  The members and their respective AEA affiliates represent decades of evaluation and AEA leadership experience.  Check out the website and resources. If you’d like to join the LAC, email Leah (LAC co-chair) at leah.neubauer@northwestern.edu.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Chicagoland Evaluation Association (CEA) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from CEA 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.

· · ·

Hello! I’m Kathy Newcomer. Serving as president of AEA this year has been an honor and privilege for many reasons. One of them is the opportunity to witness firsthand the incredible commitment and effort so many of our members exert on our behalf!

AEA members serve on TIGs, task forces and working groups and work diligently behind the scenes to move our association and profession forward on a variety of fronts. This year through these  groups our members have made many achievements that benefit us and that I want to acknowledge.

  • Our Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) strategically worked to develop and sustain a coalition of professional associations to provide input to the deliberations of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policy. Our EPTF provided valuable testimony, and our AEA Roadmap was cited multiple times in the final Commission’s report. The recommendations on evidence-building capacity reflected our roadmap, as well as the significant contributions of AEA member and Washington Evaluators president, Nick Hart, who was a key author!
  • Our Race and Class Dialogues series led by Melvin Hall presented valuable forums for discussing how we as professional evaluators can address critical issues facing our society, and due to the dedication and time developed by Melvin and his committee, and funding provided by the Kellogg Foundation, AEA will provide an outstanding training video on this vital topic.
  • Our Competencies Task Force led by Jean King moved toward completion of their multi-year effort to develop and vet a set of evaluator competencies. Members devoted an impressive amount of time conducting focus groups, surveying our membership, and consulting with evaluators globally to ensure our competencies are comprehensive, reliable and valuable.
  • Our Guiding Principles Review Task Force led by former AEA President Beverly Parsons reached out extensively to our membership, including via a survey this fall, to update our association’s guidance to ethical practice.
  • Many members participated in shaping our selection process for a new Executive Director under the leadership of our ED Selection chair and President-elect Leslie Goodyear through contributing valuable guidance on the job description and criteria.
  • Our Membership Engagement Task Force led by Melvin Hall and Robin Miller reviewed AEA records and actions and solicited members’ input to develop a set of actionable recommendations to strengthen our association’s commitment to diversity and inclusive leadership development and membership engagement.
  • Our AEA representative to IOCE Cindy Clapp-Wincek represented us across the world, and led a group of us to participate in an awe-inspiring summit of EVAL partners in Kyrgyzstan.
  • My 2017 Conference Program Committee, comprised of 17 members from 7 countries, worked to develop our themes, recruit speakers and organize a video contest and sessions to ensure our conference provides a memorable learning experience for all.
  • Our network of affiliates led by Leah Neubauer and Allison Titcomb worked to enhance sharing across their organizations and planned their first ever affiliates workshop for Evaluation 2017.
  • Needless to say, we have all benefited immeasurably from the efforts of our TIG leaders who worked long and hard to solicit and vet conference proposals, among other important services they provide to AEA.
  • And 21 working groups comprised of more than 125 AEA members work closely with our Executive Director to conduct essential association business in a variety of areas including elections, awards and international outreach.

My most important role as outgoing president is to bear witness to the achievements of so many of our members who work on our behalf with little recognition other than seeing good work accomplished to move our profession forward. THANK YOU!!!!! We truly appreciate what you have done for us!

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.

· · ·

Hello, I am Nick Hart, Treasurer of AEA’s Washington Evaluators (WE) affiliate and a PhD student in Program Evaluation at The George Washington University. I’d like to share some thoughts on the value of local affiliates’ connections with the academic community.Untitled

 

Situated in the Washington, D.C. area, WE has a unique opportunity to connect a diverse range of evaluators from nearly every policy field in non-profits, government, and academia.  While location can be a benefit for local affiliates, evaluators from all disciplines and sectors can come together in nearly any city to strengthen and connect the evaluation community.  Here are a few lessons we’ve learned about the benefits of specifically linking government and non-profit evaluators with academics that might be helpful for whatever part of the country you live in.

Clipped from http://tspppa.gwu.edu/

Lessons Learned:

  • Networking and Relationships:  Local affiliates can sponsor events that encourage academics and practioners to learn more about and to actively discuss joint interests, ranging from specific policy areas to evaluation theory and methods.  Aside from the benefit of organized presentations and an enriching learning environment that local affiliates can facilitate, the professional networking that follows events can encourage new connections to researchers with specific expertise in an area of interest.  Researchers and practitioners in academia are plugged in to the breadth of evaluation literature, not to mention personal connections with other researchers across the country (or world!).  Interacting directly and connecting with academics in your specific policy area can fuel conversations that strengthen evaluation designs and lead to innovative or insightful ways to look at your research questions.
  • Diverse Experiences:  Any gathering of program evaluation practitioners is destined to offer an eclectic mix of experience and knowledge about evaluation issues and theory.  Local affiliates provide a benefit for researchers in the academic community who gain from hearing and discussing field experiences.  Practitioners can help academics generate useful research ideas, contribute to developing and advancing evaluation theory, and identify new collaborators or co-authors.

Hot tip: Are you from the DC area? Join WE.. Is there an affiliate in your area?  Join up, or start a new affiliate. WE would be glad to help.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Washington Evaluators (WE) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from WE Affiliate 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.

We are Ladel Lewis and Bernadette Wright, the leadership team of Meaningful Evidence LLC and co-founders of ASK MATT and active on the Membership Committee of Washington Evaluators (WE), the AEA affiliate for the National Capitol Area. Like a great party needs guests, your organization needs members to succeed. Here are some example ways a membership committee can attract past, current, and future members.

Recruitment: If you invite them, they will come! WE is planning a free membership celebration event where members bring future members. We also plan to extend an invitation to AEA members who are not WE members inviting them to join, using the AEA Affiliate Mailing List. We plug WE at the beginning of all WE events, then follow-up with attendees who aren’t members inviting them to join.

Retention: Hey, stick around! Make it easier for members to be heard. WE added a half hour for informal socializing before board meetings (held at restaurants). Also, the Membership Committee makes welcome calls to new members monthly encouraging their participation and feedback.

Reclamation: We miss you! When your organization is offering new services and benefits, some lapsed members may want to re-join. Keep them in the loop! Email, call, or send them a card encouraging them to come back.

Hot Tip: One committee cannot do it all.Clarify with your Board each committee’s role. The WE board defined roles for three committees: Program, Membership, and Communications. We emailed members asking for volunteers to join these expanding committees.

Hot Tip: Flexibility is key! Meeting at a regular day and time and incorporating technology can make it easier for people to attend. Based on asking Committee members how they would prefer to meet, the WE Membership Committee meets monthly by conference call.

Hot Tip: Evaluation time! To understand trends and track our progress, the WE Membership Committee provides monthly statistics from our analysis of information in the membership database. Below is an example chart from our last report.

Wright

Rad Resource: Membership management software makes it easier to manage membership data. WE uses Wild Apricot, a system that includes membership management, website content management, and email management.

Rad Resource: Toastmasters Clubs are a great way to hone leadership and public speaking skills that you can use at any organization. Toastmasters provides training and a detailedClub Leadership Handbookfor all Club officers, including the Vice President Membership, who would create and oversee the Membership Committee.

What has worked and what has not for membership building at your local evaluation association?

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Washington Evaluators (WE) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from WE Affiliate 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.

Welcome! I’m Ann K. Emery, longtime fan of AEA affiliates and proud Secretary of the Washington Evaluators.

WE has transformed from an informal organization into a lean, mean fighting machine. We’ve standardized our procedures for planning events and tracking members; transferred institutional knowledge from our brains into documents; and improved how we share information with our members.

These strategies have proven effective in our transformation process:

  • What’s your affiliate all about? We’ve developed one-pagers to describe our community of practice and updated every section of our website, like washingtonevaluators.org/about.
  • Who are your affiliate’s leaders? We shared our board members’ names, photos, and bios at washingtonevaluators.org/board. Our bylaws give us plenty of wiggle-room, so we spent a few meetings discussing board roles and responsibilities and matching each leader’s interests with the organization’s needs.
  • Who are your affiliate’s members? Contact information for 220+ members is available in a members-only directory. Our Membership Committee also provides monthly membership statistics.
  • How can your affiliate easily plan events? To streamline our event planning process, we started posting events and collecting RSVPs through washingtonevaluators.org/events, a calendar that’s available through our Wild Apricot software. Our event calendar also allows us to systematically track attendance so we know which topics and speakers are most popular with our members.
  • How can you transform your affiliate’s members into leaders? We documented our process for planning brown bags (e.g., how to reserve a room, liaise with the speaker, etc.) Transferring these procedures from our brains into a step-by-step guide has made it easy for WE members to take on leadership roles by planning events.
  • How can members interact with each other online? WE’s now on Twitter (@WashEval), LinkedIn, and Slideshare. Our flagship online resource is our listserv, where we post job announcements and RFPs specifically for evaluators in the DC area.
  • How can your affiliate communicate with members? We developed a comprehensive communications strategy that explains how, why, and when we communicate with various audiences (e.g., when we’d send a listserv announcement vs. tweet vs. LinkedIn posting vs. other communications modes).
  • Where’s information stored? We share meeting agendas and minutes through Google Drive, which means WE’s history will be documented for future generations of affiliate leaders (not lost in our inboxes).
  • What’s your affiliate doing next? Our board discusses day-to-day issues at monthly meetings. A couple times a year, our president Brian Yoder prepares a delicious dinner in his home and we spend the evening discussing long-range organizational goals.

What a friendly group! Won’t you join us?

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Washington Evaluators (WE) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from WE Affiliate 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.

My name is Tanya Ostrogorsky, Assistant Vice Provost for Assessment and Evaluation at Oregon Health & Science University, and I’ve been involved with Oregon Program Evaluators Network since 2002.  I ‘grew up’ studying research methods and data analysis and looking back I was a functioning as an evaluator before I knew what that meant. It wasn’t until my doctoral program that I took my first program evaluation course and attended an OPEN conference. Since then I’ve held leadership positions on seven different occasions including a long stretch as OPEN President during a difficult time in the organization’s history.

The purpose of this post is not to tell you about my trajectory as a local affiliate leader, but to share lessons learned through my observations about the role and function of the local affiliates in supporting AEAs mission. I also want to remind us how critical the local affiliates are to the development of local talent as well as the national leadership pipeline. Finally, I want to highlight the under-realized sources of energy, excitement, and real diversity that are in our midst.

Recently, 126 conference attendees ranging from students to newly minted graduates to early careerist to long-timers gathered to hear about the Top 10 Trends in Evaluation with Dr. Stewart Donaldson.  My first reaction to that day was a strong sense of pride in watching a local affiliate consistently deliver significant professional development opportunities for 16 years. My second reaction, as I scanned the room, was on the diverse and exciting mix of attendees that represent our past, our present, and our future.

So, what’s my point? Just as AEA needs to leverage and develop the local affiliates, past local affiliate leaders need to ensure the next generations of evaluators are provided the organizational history and encouragement to pick up where we left off. In both cases, we have a professional responsibility to support and encourage our peers in taking the next step in their leadership development. We need to offer encouragement and harness their energy. Yes, they will stumble and they will re-create the wheel, but so did we.

Lesson learned: We must leverage the talents and energy of the local affiliates to develop the leadership pipeline needs. My hope is that AEA can bring their focus to the power of local affiliates to create a strong organizational legacy. At the same time, it is local affiliate leadership responsibility to ensure that we do our part and have a strong community to support AEA.

Hot Tip: Local/regional AEA affiliates offer many opportunities to build our evaluation community. Find yours here and take the next step!

Clipped from http://www.eval.org/p/cm/ld/fid=12

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Oregon Program Evaluators Network (OPEN) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from OPEN 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.

·

My name is Kim Firth Leonard, and I have the honor of authoring the first post on the aea365 blog for Oregon Program Evaluators Network (OPEN) week. I have been an AEA member since 2008, and am currently President of OPEN, a local affiliate of AEA founded in 1997. I work as Assessment Research Coordinator at Marylhurst University in Portland Oregon and do contract work in program evaluation via Leonard Research and Evaluation, LLC.

This week’s posts were by OPEN members who have played important volunteer and leadership roles for OPEN. The posts demonstrate the value of our local network by sharing lessons we’ve gathered in reflecting on our work together as evaluators and as volunteers with OPEN.

I have learned much about evaluation and about building learning communities through OPEN. The bulk of the work done by OPEN’s volunteer Council and Committees is in organizing and supporting local events. OPEN’s mission is to provide a regional, interdisciplinary forum for professional development, networking, and exchange of practical, methodological, and theoretical knowledge in the field of evaluation. It is through these events that we build learning communities, and in doing so strengthen our work individually, and as a field.  

Get Involved: Whether you have a local affiliate or just an informal network of other evaluators in your area, you too can host, lead, contribute to, or benefit from local evaluation events.

  • Host: Events don’t have to be massive undertakings to be successful. Small, informal gatherings can be just as valuable as large conferences. “Have an idea? Go for it” is practically our events committee motto.
  • Lead: Local events are great places to practice your presentation and training skills. Discussion groups, like OPEN’s new-ish Book Club are low-pressure and offer opportunities to discuss emerging topics.
  • Contribute: Volunteer to help organize events for unique networking opportunities. Learning event planning skills is icing on the cake.
  • Benefit: It’s all about learning together. Valuable learning about one another and the field can happen at any get together – so attend local events whenever you’re able.

Lesson Learned: OPEN has always been welcoming to community members who don’t identify as evaluators, exactly, but do related work or want to learn more about evaluation. In the last year or so we’ve been emphasizing this openness (ha!) and we’ve found that collaborating with and learning from others in related fields greatly enriches our evaluation learning community. Sessions at our recent conference intended to create opportunity to learn from and with others in our community, including non-profit leaders, were well received.

Rad Resource: Materials from our 2013 conference are available on our website.

Rad Resource: Your own learning community is at your local affiliate or among other local AEA members.

Clipped from http://oregoneval.org/

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Oregon Program Evaluators Network (OPEN) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from OPEN 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.

·

Hello, I am Vanessa Hiratsuka, secretary of the Alaska Evaluation Network (AKEN) and a senior researcher at Southcentral Foundation (SCF), a tribally owned and managed regional health corporation based in Anchorage, Alaska, which serves Alaska Native and American Indian people.

As part of Commitment to Quality, a key organizational value, Southcentral Foundation (SCF) prioritizes continuous quality improvement (CQI), quality assurance, program evaluation, and research.

Although the strategies and tools used in CQI, quality assurance, program evaluation, and research are similar, we do different things. One of our challenges is to help staff across the organization understand who does what. Because these four fields differ in aim and audience, exploring the goals of a project (aim) and who will use its findings (audience) provides a useful framework to determine where a project fits.

Hiratsuka graphic

At SCF, improvement staff work directly with SCF department and clinic processes to develop and implement project performance measures and outcome indicators as well as help staff (audience) improve processes to better meet customer-owner needs and inform business directions (aim).  Quality Assurance staff conduct quality monitoring to ensure programs are complying (aim) with SCF processes and the requirements of our accrediting bodies (internal and external audiences).

SCF internal evaluators measure programs’ performance (aim) and provide feedback to programmatic stakeholders — including staff, leadership, and funders (audience). The SCF research department’s projects address questions of clinical significance to contribute to generalizable knowledge (aim) for use within SCF and for dissemination in the scientific literature around American Indian and Alaska Native health (audience).

Lessons Learned:

–        Define the aim and intended audience early in the process! This helps identify the stakeholders, level of review, and oversight needed during all stages of a project, including development, implementation, and dissemination of findings.

–        Broadly disseminate findings! Findings and recommendations from all disciplines are only useful when they are shared. At SCF, findings are shared at interdivisional committee meetings and with staff who oversee the work of departments. Multipronged dissemination ensures involvement from all levels of SCF and supports innovation and the spread of new knowledge.

–        Project review can be complicated!  At SCF, research projects must be vetted through a tribal concept review phase, an Institutional Review Board review, and finally a tribal review of the proposal.  Later, all research dissemination products (abstracts for presentation, manuscripts, and final reports) are also required to undergo a tribal research review process. These take time, so it is important to understand the processes and timelines and build review time into your project management timelines.

Check out these posts on understanding evaluation:

  1. 1.    Gisele Tchamba on Learning the Difference between Evaluation and Research
  2. 2.    John LaVelle on Describing Evaluation

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Alaska Evaluation Network (AKEN) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AKEN 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.

·

Greetings! My name is kas aruskevich and I am principal of Evaluation Research Associates LLC. I live in Fairbanks and work primarily in rural Alaska. Alaska is known for its great natural beauty, extreme temperatures, and unique context of diverse and far-flung communities assessable only by air. Alaska is the largest state in the U.S.

Alaska map

Rural communities often have a small population and rarely have a local evaluator for hire. Consequently, a program evaluator is most often hired from outside the community or region. Helicopter evaluation is a depreciating term used to describe a drop in – evaluate – depart approach. Today’s post talks about methods to strengthen and add depth to evaluations that involve distance between evaluator and evaluand.

Hot Tip: First, context is important. Familiarize yourself with the community and region before you travel. Gather demographic data of the community, leading industry, and cultural composition. Learn about the organization hosting the program, before your first contact. Plan your site-visit around a community event so you can see the community in a broader context.

Rad Resource: The importance of context is discussed in New Directions for Evaluation Fall 2012, Issue 135.

Hot Tip: Next, work to build open communication with program staff. Begin with a teleconference to provide an opportunity to meet staff and organization and discuss program status. Teleconferences also give you a chance to describe your evaluation style and see if you are a ‘fit’ for the organization and the evaluation project.

ALWAYS include participatory methods. I don’t ‘come in’ as the expert with an unchangeable evaluation design, but instead write up suggestions for the evaluation to negotiate before a plan is finalized. As an itinerant evaluator you can’t be on site as often as you might like. Using a participatory evaluation approach, program staff can be involved in the evaluation through taking photos or identifying program participants or stakeholders to interview.

Rad Resource – Read more about participatory evaluation in Cousins and Chouinard’s new book Participatory Evaluation Up Close.

Hot Tip: Lastly, work to build a friendly relationship based on mutual interests with at least one person in the organization or community. After years of conducting evaluations, friendly relationships have evolved into continuing friendships. These friendships have mutual benefits, in-part, they are a bridge for the evaluator to learn community specific cultural protocols–very important to conduct evaluations in cross-cultural settings – which in turn can strengthen the program through appropriate evaluation.

Lesson Learned: Itinerant evaluation can be much more than a helicopter site-visit approach. Regular communication and working together with program staff as a team can expand the evaluative evidence collected and increase report credibility, relevance, and use by the program staff.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Alaska Evaluation Network (AKEN) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AKEN 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.

· ·

Older posts >>

Archives

To top