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

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Hello, my name is Jan Noga. I’m the owner of Pathfinder Evaluation and Consulting in Cincinnati. I’m excited to see the conference here in Ohio; although, living in the opposite corner of the state, it’s going to take me longer to drive to Cleveland than it would to fly to DC!

The conference is exciting. But it can also be daunting, for those new to evaluation and the annual meeting, and stale, for those veterans of many years of conference attendance. So, novice or veteran, here’s a strategy for negotiating the conference using systems thinking.

Systems thinking is a way of understanding the world that emphasizes the whole and how its individual parts contribute. It is concerned with:

  • The interrelationships among the system’s parts and their relationship to the whole,
  • The multiple perspectives that are part of the system, drive what happens within the system, and influence how actors and elements experience the system
  • The boundaries that define the system. 

Cool Trick: Evaluation 2018 from a systems thinking point of view:

  • Interrelationships: Think of the conference as many dances being danced at the same time. If you’re new, what dance do you pick? Go to the orientation provided by AEA to learn the basic steps. Find a TIG that interests you and attend the business meeting. Attend a workshop to get a start on some familiar faces to “dance” with during the conference. You’ll be weaving your own pattern in no time. But you’re not new, you say? The conference is getting old? Change the dance! Get out of your routine – if you usually go to paper sessions, go to think tanks. Skip some sessions and get coffee with someone you’ve always wanted to talk with. Weave a new pattern for the conference.
  • Perspective: Novice or veteran, each of us brings a perspective around timing, quality, and “appropriate” type of session, among others, that will influence how you engage with the conference and whether it meets your expectations. Challenge your perspectives. Understand where you are coming from but seek out other perspectives and try to understand them as well. You’ll be surprised what you learn about yourself and your fellow evaluators.
  • Boundaries: NO ONE CAN DO IT ALL. There are boundaries of scheduling and energy that we all struggle with. You don’t have to attend a session during every time block if you don’t want to. There are also boundaries of interest and purpose – what are you here for? Rethink the boundaries you create for yourself to redefine how you engage.

Rad Resource: Want to learn more about systems thinking? There are always a number of workshops and sessions sponsored by the Systems in Evaluation TIG at the conference that you can take advantage of. Or, try the TIG’s website: www.systemsinevaluation.com.

We’re looking forward to the fall and the Evaluation 2018 conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

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In the spirit of my six year old’s joy of watching kids YouTube, Hey Guys! This is Michelle Davis, from Cleveland, Ohio!  I am the Assistant Director of Tremont West Development Corporation and am excited that your conference is visiting our neighborhood.  Tremont West is a nonprofit serving the 7,500+ residents of the Tremont, Duck Island and Irishtown Bend neighborhoods of Cleveland and our mission is to serve Tremont by organizing an inclusive community, building a unified neighborhood, and promoting a unique destination.

Lessons Learned: The pride and joy of our work is our outreach and engagement with the community.  We have systematically divided the neighborhood into 11 different areas we call block club areas.  On staff, we have two community organizers who work with resident leaders to plan agendas and host monthly meetings.  Since I began working at Tremont West fifteen years ago, these loosely run gatherings have formed into formalized groups with official bylaws, co-chairs, secretaries and attendance requirements for voting on decisions that are made at their meetings.  Our community engagement is essential to our work and it assists in in planning for the future of Tremont.  Our vision is that Tremont is the ideal urban village, led by a growing population of dedicated people, filled with desirable amenities and essential services, and welcoming to all.

Hot Tips: Tremont is a fun place to visit and explore.  We claim to have more historic churches in one square mile than anywhere in the country!  Lincoln Park serves as our town square and place of many gatherings throughout the spring, summer and fall!  Here are a few places to check out during your visit:

  • A Christmas Story House & Museum – explore the property where Ralphie shot his eye out and the Bumpuses’ Hounds ate the Christmas Turkey! There is a great lunch spot, The Rowley Inn, right on the corner across from the house!
  • Tremont Tap House – Cleveland’s first gastropub. If you love beer, this is the place for you!  Plus, its right down Historic Scranton Road from a theatre, The Liminis, which is home to a small avant-garde company called convergence-continuum.
  • Professor Avenue – is home to boutique shopping at Banyan Tree and Evie Lou as well as famous chefs including Dante Boccuzzi and Rocco Whalen of Fahrenheit.
  • Sokolowski’s University Inn – a cafeteria style, James Beard Award winning, restaurant, serving comfort food including their famous pierogis. Now on the Towpath Trail, a regional asset, off road walking and cycling trail that you can take to past Akron, Ohio to New Philidelphia, Ohio 110 miles south of Cleveland.

We’re looking forward to the fall and the Evaluation 2018 conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

My name is Elizabeth Bolander, Director of Audience Insights and Services at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) and President-Elect of the Visitor Studies Association. We do a variety of research and evaluation activities at CMA, all with the goal of learning about the needs of our various constituencies and communities. This work is particularly important in light of our new strategic plan, which recommits us to our mission of “for the benefit of all the people, forever.”

Over the last few years, we’ve completed several studies focusing on the barriers to entry among non-visitors. This has ranged from community-based panels where we worked with local libraries to host and recruit residents for discussions to focus groups with infrequent and non-visitors that met certain demographic criteria (i.e. young professionals, parents with children under age 8 in the household, etc.).

Lessons Learned:

Establishing mutually beneficial partnerships is critical to success

When we wanted to reach residents in traditionally underserved communities by the museum, we knew we needed a partner that could help establish trust and generate participant interest. Yet, we also wanted to ensure the partner was getting something out of the relationship as well. When we worked with local library branch managers, they helped spread the word about the open discussion groups and made sure we got our target respondents for the study, while we made sure they also received our findings.

Prepare internal stakeholders

Many of the key insights we gleamed from these non-visitor studies were not always the easiest to hear because they often challenged the status-quo and internally held assumptions. Laying the groundwork in advance and encouraging ongoing conversations after the formal presentation helped make the findings easier to digest and immediately actionable.

Research as a community engagement tool

Going out into the communities and listening to their thoughts and opinions helped create additional in-roads in these neighborhoods. Some community members felt more apt to attend CMA programming because we took the time to listen to them and engage.

Rad Resources:

Even if you think you’re not an “art museum person” like some of our respondents, I hope many of you will come see us while you’re attending AEA in Cleveland this fall. In addition to the Cleveland Museum of Art, the University Circle neighborhood  is home to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland History Center, MOCA Cleveland, and the Cleveland Orchestra, as well as being adjacent to Little Italy. The RTA Health Line bus departs from Tower City as does the Rapid train, where you can take the red line to the Cedar-University Circle or Little Italy-University Circle stops. The free CircleLink bus operates year-round throughout the neighborhood, or you can take a stroll through the beautiful parks and Case Western Reserve University campus.

We’re looking forward to the fall and the Evaluation 2018 conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

Link to www.universitycircle.org

My name is Matt Linick, and I am the Executive Director of Research and Evaluation at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD). We are excited that the American Evaluation Association is coming to Cleveland this year!

As many embedded researchers and evaluators in school districts know, we are often under-resourced and over-committed, so partnering with research organizations is an important tool for meeting the needs of the community. Last year, CMSD along with the Center for Urban Education at Cleveland State University and the American Institutes for Research formed the Cleveland Alliance for Education Research (CAER). This partnership is helping the district investigate questions about our work in social-emotional learning and school culture with our Humanware team, answering questions about our students that are English language learners with our Multilingual Multicultural Education team, and helping us prioritize our research and evaluation questions.

Rad Resource:

Creating a partnership between a local or state education agency and research organizations is hard work and can be overwhelming. Don’t Panic![1] Others have struggled with this task and there are organizations and resources available to you. One such resource is the National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships (NNERPP). Their website has resources, information, and guidance for those in education organizations and the organizations they partner with. The guidance they provide can also help serve as a template for partnerships that happen outside of the education landscape. For those new to this work, NNERPP provides a guide to building the foundation of your partnership and walks you through the important questions. For those that have already started partnering informally, but are looking to create a more formal structure (like CAER), sample MOUs, charters, and job descriptions are provided. They even have an Education Week blog that features researchers and practitioners and their reflections as they pursue this productive struggle.

Hot Tips:

Over six years ago, Cleveland embarked on Cleveland’s Plan for Transforming Schools. During that time, we have launched and expanded many innovative new schools and brought a diversity of options to Cleveland’s students. While at the conference, attendees will be within walking distance of several of CMSD’s high schools with exciting programs. MCSTEM is an exciting STEM school with three campuses located within a Fortune 500 company, a college campus, and the Great Lakes Science Center (next to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). The Cleveland High School for Digital Arts is located downtown and provides students with an exciting opportunity to master academic content through project-based learning focused on digital arts. Located in the same building is the Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School. Davis is a STEM school that focuses providing students with a curriculum that emphasizes college and career readiness through real-world opportunities in aerospace and maritime careers.

(http://www.mc2stemhighschool.org/) is an exciting STEM school with three campuses located within a Fortune 500 company, a college campus, and the Great Lakes Science Center (next to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). The Cleveland High School for Digital Arts is located downtown and provides students with an exciting opportunity to master academic content through project-based learning focused on digital arts. Located in the same building is the Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School. Davis is a STEM school that focuses providing students with a curriculum that emphasizes college and career readiness through real-world opportunities in aerospace and maritime careers.

We hope you enjoy our fantastic city, visit the wonderful entertainment options near the conference center, and learn some more about the exciting new things Cleveland is doing for students and families.

[1] To quote the wonderful Douglas Adams.

 

We’re looking forward to the fall and the Evaluation 2018 conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

Greetings! I’m Lana Rucks, Principal Consultant with The Rucks Group. I serve as the current President of the Ohio Program Evaluators’ Group (OPEG) and Chair of the Cleveland Local Arrangement Working Group (LAWG). OPEG and the Cleveland LAWG are looking forward to welcoming you to Cleveland this fall!

In the blogs this week, we are thrilled to introduce you to our beloved city, which used to be referred to as the “mistake on the lake” but is now the city that rocks! What you will come to know is that Cleveland is rich in history and entertainment and is populated by a friendly and diverse group of people. The deep roots in Cleveland also extend into the evaluation space: OPEG was established in 1980 and pre-dates AEA! With regard to the philanthropic community, Cleveland is home to the nation’s first community foundation, The Cleveland Foundation.  Throughout this week, the contributors have woven together general information about evaluation with interesting evaluation work that is occurring in Cleveland.

Towards that end, I would like to share about a new emerging effort to build evaluation capacity for local foundations, particularly focused on small- and medium-sized foundations. Under the leadership of Kathleen Dean of the Saint Luke’s Foundation and Christine Mitton of Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland and in partnership with Philanthropy Ohio, they have created a forum for individuals who are on the front lines of grantmaking and grants management as well as individuals responsible for evaluation, learning, and outcomes measurement. The purpose of the group is to engage in dialogue to advance evaluation practice among foundations in Northeast Ohio. This innovative approach involves discussion topics that vary but essentially revolve around sharing best practices and challenges towards increasing the use of evaluation practice within their work. It is exciting that this forum is serving to promulgate evaluation within the region.

Rad Resource: A recent discussion to facilitate the discussion used the guide Facilitating Intentional Group Learning published by FSG guide as a backdrop for the discussion. The report contains a plethora of information on advancing learning within foundations.

Hot Tip: Like with any city, there are references and language that are unique to Cleveland. One such word is “Halle’s.” Invariably, a reference to Halle’s will come up in a conversation with a native Clevelander. So that you’ll know what people are talking about, here’s some background information: Halle’s is a reference to the Halle Brothers Co., which was a department store in Cleveland for nearly 100 years. Its former flagship location is one of the oldest buildings in Cleveland. Since closing in the mid-1980’s the building was renovated and currently serves as office space for area businesses. Here’s another interesting fact: Halle Berry, the movie actress, is the department store’s namesake.

We’re looking forward to the fall and the Evaluation 2018 conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

 

I am David Bernstein, CEO of DJB Evaluation Consulting and Past-President of Washington Evaluators, the DC-based local AEA affiliate, and the Evaluation 2017 Conference Co-chair.

I have a career-long commitment to volunteering as a Red Cross volunteer (CPR instructor, blood donor), a Board member with Washington Evaluators, and a frequent volunteer with AEA. Giving back is a gift to me because I learn so much and get to expand my leadership skills.

I have been a volunteer for the AEA annual conference nearly every year it has been held, and am a member of the AEA Conference Working Group. While the AEA staff do a remarkable amount of work to pull the AEA conference together, it is the membership that pull the conference together. Most frequently I have volunteered to review conference proposals as part of the Topical Interest Group (TIG) review process, which establish the conference strands.

Lesson Learned: It was through my role as a TIG Chair that I had the honor of knowing and learning from Bob Ingle, who was the AEA Annual Conference Chair for the first 10 years of the AEA conference. As Jean King so eloquently described him, “Bob Ingle knew how to put on a conference.” (See her post, Memorial Week: Jean King on Remembering Bob Ingle (1926-1998), Pioneer in establishing the annual AEA conference”). What did I learn about volunteering for AEA and the AEA Conference from Bob Ingle? A lot, and I was not alone. AEA named its Service Award after Bob Ingle!

In 2002 and 2013 I had the honor of serving as AEA Conference Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG) Co-chair. What I learned was that the most important role of the LAWG co-chairs is to recruit other volunteers. In 2013 my fellow LAWG Co-chair Valerie Caracelli (a Robert Ingle Service Award winner) and I worked with a group of over 70 volunteers from Washington Evaluators to provide local information about DC and help with conference planning and logistics.

Rad Resource: The 2017 LAWG Co-chairs, Giovanni Dazzo and Jonathan Jones, have been working with a large number of volunteers on several initiatives for the Conference. Stop by the “Ask Me About DC” table to say hi to a friendly volunteer or two who can give you all sorts of interesting information about the DC area.

For Evaluation 2017 I had the honor of working with Kathy Newcomer, our 2017 AEA President, and a diverse group of volunteers on Kathy’s Conference Program Committee. A group of 17 of us worked with Kathy to develop the conference theme and subthemes, coordinate with the TIGs, assemble the Presidential Strand, identify plenary session speakers, and help Kathy in a variety of other ways. Susan Tucker (AEA’s Treasurer, another important volunteer position), Donna Podems (a former AEA Board Member), and I served as the Conference Program Co-chairs.

Hot Tip: Want to be an AEA volunteer? Check the AEA Volunteer Opportunities page, and find something in which you are interested. You too can make a difference in AEA, and in the evaluation profession.

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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My name is Rodney Hopson, former AEA President and current Program Director (with Brandi Gilbert) of the AEA Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program, which is currently housed in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University where I am faculty in the education policy program.

I am excited to welcome colleagues this fall to Evaluation 2017 in Washington, DC, for at least two reasons:

1) The conference theme, From Learning to Action, could not come at a more propitious time in our nation and in our world. The four subthemes: learning to enhance evaluation practices, learning what works and why, learning from others, and learning about evaluation users and uses imply that we evaluators ought to make good use of the lessons we learn in our practice, discipline, and profession. We have plenty of examples in our global and local communities which reveal how intolerance, hate, and bitterness continue to rip at the fibers of our democratic possibilities of equity and social cohesion. If anything, the events of Charlottesville in early August point to how far we have to go. The conference is a call to action in the complex ecologies of our practice where relationships matter; we have a responsibility to act and to find relevance in solving the wicked problems in our practice.

Hot Tip: Find a way to move from learning to action while attending Evaluation 2017. For instance, our local affiliate has ways to become active through Evaluation without Borders, where you can lend a hand to local community-based agencies. Or, find a way to visit your local representative through EvalAction.

2) Washington, DC is a great city to see, rich with ethnically and linguistically diverse neighborhoods and communities with yummy food to eat, places to visit, and people to see!

Just last week, my wife Deborah and I strolled east of the River in the Anacostia Historic District where we visited the Anacostia Community Museum and Cedar Hill, home of the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass.  African-Americans have an inspiring and proud history in the city that dates back as early as 1800, when they made up 25% of the population according to documents found in publications about the African American Heritage Trail.

Hot Tip: See how many locations you can find on the heritage trail and make a half day of it by visiting several before you leave the city:

  • Take in a show at the Howard Theater,
  • Visit the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum,
  • Check out the city’s first independent black Episcopal church, St. Luke’s, under the leadership of Alexander Crummell, noted missionary, intellectual, and clergyman, and
  • Check the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA, or even sites in Georgetown, the city’s oldest neighborhood.

Come to Evaluation 2017 ready to learn! Get nourished on what the city has to offer and get ready to act as you leave!

We’re looking forward to November and the Evaluation 2017 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

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Hello everyone!  Yvonne M. Watson here.  I’m a long-time member (almost 15 years) of AEA and a doctoral student at The George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration.  I’d like to share a few brief lessons learned on the topic of Evaluation Users and Evaluation Use, one of four focus areas for the 2017 Conference theme Evaluation: From Learning to Action.

Perhaps the greatest thrill of victory and agony of defeat for any evaluator is the use of the evaluation report and findings.  Many of the evaluation field’s pioneers, thought leaders, and emerging practitioners have written extensively on this topic.  Understanding the many facets of use including evaluation users, uses, barriers and the facilitation of greater use can help evaluators strategically invest their time and resources to ensure the evaluation is designed with the intended use and user in mind.  Here are a few things to consider.

Lessons Learned:

Know Your Audience.  Understanding the intended user is critical. Evaluation users can include managers and staff responsible for managing and administering federal, state and local government programs, and non-profit and for profit organizations. Funders, academic researchers, Congressional members and staff, policy makers, citizens groups, and other evaluators are also intended users of evaluations.

Understand How the Evaluation will be Used.   Carol Weiss offered the field four categories of use for evaluation findings.  Instrumental use involves the use of evaluation findings for decision making to influence a specific program or a policy more broadly.  Evaluation findings that generate new ideas and concepts, promote and foster learning about the program is considered conceptual/ enlightenment useExternal influence on other institutions and organizations involves the use of evaluation results by entities outside of the organization that commissioned the evaluation.  Evaluation findings that are used symbolically or politically to “justify preexisting preferences and actions” is considered political use.  The use of evaluation findings for accountability, monitoring and development were introduced by Michael Quinn Patton.

Explore the Potential Barriers to Use.  Barriers might limit the use of the evaluation:  timeliness (results not available when needed to inform decision-making); insufficient resources (lack of resources to implement recommendations); or the absence of a learning culture (culture of continuous learning and program improvement).

Consider Strategies to Facilitate Use.  Design your evaluation with the intended use and user in mind. Michael Quinn Patton introduced the field to Utilization-Focused Evaluation which emphasizes evaluation design that facilitates use by the intended users.  Lastly, clearly communicate evaluation results.  Recently, data visualization has emerged as a strategy to address evaluation use by communicating the research and findings in a way that will help evaluation users and make decisions.

Rad Resources:

Have We Learned Anything New About the Use of Evaluation , Carol Weiss

Utilization-Focused Evaluation , Michael Quinn Patton

AEA Data-Visualization and Reporting Topical Interest Group

We’re looking forward to November and the Evaluation 2017 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

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Hi, I am Teresa Derrick-Mills, a researcher and evaluator at the Urban Institute in DC. I love learning and researching at the intersections of policy and practice, research and translation to practice, and issues or problems that invite a multi-disciplinary or multi-policy area approach. Today, I am here to spark your interest in the Evaluation 2017 Learning from Others Conference Track.

Given the interdisciplinary nature of evaluation, you might be wondering, who is an “other” that I might learn from? Where can I or should I look to expand my evaluation toolbox to generate appropriate evidence in this complex and dynamic world? In this context, I see the “other” through at least 5 dimensions:

  1. Other researchers who don’t identify as evaluators but whose work we can learn from (see conference tip below for some examples)
  2. Other individuals who could be both the subjects of and participants in our research
  3. Other evaluators whose methodological expertise differs from ours
  4. Other evaluators whose cultures differ from ours
  5. Other evaluators whose evaluation environments differ from ours

Hot Tip – For the Conference:

The President’s Strand includes some sessions that have been very intentionally crafted to expand our learning from others toolkit. See session 3517 to learn from feminism, session 2105 to learn from game theory, session 3260 to learn from implementation science, and session 1686 to learn from each other the ways that race and class influence our evaluation designs and findings.

Hot Tip – for the local DC area:

One great place to learn from others is the National Geographic Museum, my personal favorite. You can take the Metro Red Line down to Farragut North. It isn’t one of the free museums, but the vivid, wall-size pictures provide new perspectives to think about the world (and how to study it) in new ways.

We’re looking forward to November and the Evaluation 2017 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

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Greetings! We are Estelle Raimondo, an Evaluation Specialist at the World Bank, and Karol Olejniczak, an Associate Professor at the University of Warsaw. Like most of you we are evaluation nerds and we can’t wait to join thousands of you in DC in November to learn about “what works and why.” We had the opportunity to work with Prof. Newcomer on conceptualizing this year’s conference, so let us tell you how this particular strand came about and give you three “hot tips” for how to join the conversation.

Lessons learned: The theme of “learning what works and why” is primarily a call for collective reflections on what we may call the “learning paradox” that Aristotle eloquently articulated in his time: “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” For decades, the evaluation community in its wide diversity has gathered evidence about the effectiveness of a vast array of interventions throughout sectors and contexts. The conference is the perfect arena to deliberate on (1) what we know that we didn’t know, let’s say 10 years ago; (2) missed opportunities for cumulative knowledge; and (2) how we can convey this evidence to policy makers and practitioners.

Hot Tip #1: Even if you are not a methods geek like us, you may want to attend a session on the latest thinking on causal inference. Whether it is through advancement in systems thinking, experiments, or qualitative methods of causal inference, many of us are pushing methodological boundaries to crack the causal nut. For instance, Estelle has used process tracing to assess the impact of engaging citizens on the quality of public services in developing countries. If you are interested, you can join us in November for a demonstration session on the topic.

Rad Resource: A detailed guide on using QCA in evaluations

Hot tip #2: Attend a session that is not strictly in your field. If you are an education expert, why not join a session on what we have learned about effective service delivery in transportation or peace-building?  That way we can test the generalizability of each other’s work by simply talking to one another. We bet you that given the common underlying behavioral and social mechanisms that affect interventions’ successes and failures, we have a lot to learn from each other.

Rad Resource: a professional network working on this

Hot tip #3: Learning what works and why is not useful if it doesn’t make it to the ear of practitioners and decision-makers from different communities. Try to participate in a session that ponders on this issue or learn from other fields, for instance on how to use games to test proposals for new regulations in a safe environment.

Rad Resource: an insightful article on the topic

We’re looking forward to November and the Evaluation 2017 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

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