Theories of Evaluation TIG Week: Conclusion to Theory Week by John LaVelle and Jennifer Billman

Dear friends,

John LaVelle (UMN) and Jennifer Billman (HACC) here again to wrap up this week’s Theories of Evaluation series of posts.  First off, we are grateful to all the week’s contributors for their reflections on  evaluation theory and how theory shows up in their practice.  We are also grateful for their honesty about some of the challenges encountered when discussing, implementing, and critiquing theory.  As we reflect on what we learned from them this week, as well as the November conference, one theme keeps emerging: it is essential evaluators and those engaged with evaluation have a place to wrestle with and through evaluation theory and its relationship with practice. This rich conversation lays the foundation for continuous evolution of evaluation theory such that it is responsive to current needs and reflective of all who participate in evaluation. One place where these conversations unfold, in addition to conferences, is in the evaluation classroom, whether inside or outside of the formal academy. For this reason, we chose to end this week with two resources for those interested in furthering their evaluation theory knowledge, skill, and understanding through formal training/education. 

Rad (educational) Resource:

Jenn here. I wanted to share a resource I created with you, an interactive geospatial map of John’s 2018 University-based Evaluator Education Program Directory of graduate degrees and certificates. Although the directory’s data are from late 2017 and early 2018, it is interesting to see where and how evaluation is being taught. Please note, if you lead one of the programs and want to provide updated information, you can email me ( so I can update your program’s information. If you are interested in a program, we encourage you to reach out to the program directly for the most current information.  We think you’ll agree the geospatial distribution of evaluation programs informative.

Rad (educational) Resource:

EvalYouth North America has developed an even more comprehensive map of evaluation programs and opportunities that includes professional development providers, VOPEs, and both regional and national professional associations. This is yet another great resource for searching out professional development opportunities.

Both of  these tools lead to a greater desire to more fully understand where, how, and to what degree evaluation theory (and other forms of theory) are discussed and analyzed in these venues. Because theory undergirds all evaluative work (whether explicitly or implicitly), we think answering these questions will help the field identify ways the teaching of evaluation theory can be used to advance AEA’s core competencies and ethical practice. 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Theories of Evaluation (ToE) TIG week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from AEA’s ToE TIG. 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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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