ToE TIG Week: Teaching Evaluation Well in Specific Contexts by Sue Hamann

Hello.  My name is Sue Hamann.  I have been a member of AEA for more than 20 years and a practicing evaluator for almost 40 years.  I currently work as a Science Evaluator for the federal government, and I also teach program and policy evaluation.  My students are of two categories: (1) seasoned scientists, PhDs or MDs, often biomedical researchers who are interested in expanding their skills, or (2) bachelor or master level students preparing for PhD or MD programs.  Typically, both groups have high regard for basic sciences, low regard for social sciences, and little knowledge of evaluation.  The Teaching of Evaluation Topical Interest Group asked us to reflect on good teaching in specific contexts. When I strive for good teaching of evaluation to highly qualified science professionals, I have four main goals that are tips for this blog.

Hot Tips:

1. Frame evaluation as a field of systematic inquiry.

I spend the first three hours of class demonstrating the evidence for evaluation as a discipline: graduate training in accredited universities exists; professional societies with members from all over the world exist; peer reviewed journals with numerous subscribers and contributors exist; and numerous professional development activities and texts are available.

2. Provide a solid foundation in the basic principles of evaluation.

Several classes are devoted to learning about the following: evaluation domains (aka the evaluation hierarchy) 1; evaluation standards 2; evaluation principles 3; and evaluation methods.

3. Ground examples and applications in the students’ current or future careers.

Through participation in my class, students should become informed consumers of the evaluation literature, plans, and reports.  After a few classes, when I know something about the class members, I select papers and documents for class review that are relevant to their specific jobs or career interests.  I assign each student to present to the class from a peer-reviewed publication about an evaluation relevant to the student.  Also, each student self-selects a term project, designing an evaluation of a program or policy.

4. Maintain an active, engaging learning experience.

Students come to my classes after a full day of work.  Most have demanding jobs and active family lives.  Much of their learning takes place in the classroom rather than in self-study and preparation for class.  I try to make each class lively and engaging, and I ensure that every student participates in every class.

Rad Resources:

1 Rossi PH, Lipsey MW, & Henry GT. Evaluation: A Systematic Approach, Eighth Edition,

Sage Publications, 2019.

2 Yarbrough DB, Shulha LM, Hopson RK, Caruthers FA.  The Program Evaluation Standards: A Guide for Evaluators and Evaluation Users, 3rd Ed, Sage Publications, 2011.

3 American Evaluation Association.  Guiding Principles for Evaluators, 2018 Update, www.eval.org.

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