AEA Newsletter: August 2015

Request for Letters of Interest: AEA Graduate Education Diversity Internship Program 

Key Deadlines
Program Chair and Host Institution: 2016-2018
Deadline: Thursday, October 15, 2015  

Are you committed to fostering the growth of the next generation of evaluators? Are you a faculty member or practitioner committed to the involvement of members of traditionally underrepresented groups in the field of evaluation? Are you looking for an opportunity to take an important volunteer position within AEA?

The American Evaluation Association is seeking a program chair, or program co-chairs, to serve for two years (academic years 2016-17 and 2017-18) as the program chair for the AEA Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) program. This program brings together a cohort of 10-12 outstanding graduate students from around the country for a 10-month internship consisting of workshops, training, networking, and mentoring opportunities.

Program Overview

The interns gather for the first time in August and/or early September for three days to receive an orientation to the program, evaluation, and culturally responsive evaluation practice. The students attend the AEA Annual Conference for a full week in the fall, where they attend pre-conference workshops and multiple educational sessions. They also meet with the program chair to give updates on their evaluation-focused service learning project.

The students gather again in January or February for three days to receive further training as well as coaching and feedback on their progress related to their internship projects. They gather for a final time for four days in June at the AEA Summer Institute to present and receive feedback on their final projects, attend the Institute, and take part in a commencement ceremony. Concurrently, they participate in a 10-month site-based internship placement that provides them with real-time, hands-on practice in evaluation skills.

Program Purpose

The purpose of the program is to increase the participation of evaluators from underrepresented groups in the profession and in AEA.  

Program Goals 

The goals of the program are to:

  1. Recruit graduate students of color and other underrepresented groups to extend their research capacities to evaluation;
  2. Stimulate evaluation thinking concerning underrepresented communities; and
  3. Deepen the evaluation profession's capacity to work in racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse settings.

Program Chair

The program chair is responsible for the following key facets of the internship program. Past program chairs have elected to designate a program co-chair to assist with administrative tasks and cohort oversight. This assistance is highly recommended. The expenses for such assistance would come out of the total stipend amount. No additional funding is provided by AEA.

  1. Overseeing the curriculum: The program chair will build on the existing curriculum to refine a curricular framework for the program that spans the two stand-alone trainings and is supplemented by thoughtful workshop and session selection for the conference and institute.
  2. Facilitating training: The program chair will provide introductory evaluation training and coaching to the interns during the two stand-alone trainings and any conference call follow-ups and will work with the AEA staff to arrange for outside speakers and facilitators to supplement their offerings. For example, the program chair might facilitate/coach approximately 50 percent of the opening workshop training and 25 percent of the winter training, with the content provided by the program chair supplemented during the training retreats by site visits, discussion groups, and the presentations of other facilitators. Presumably, co-chairs would facilitate a larger percentage, drawing on the expertise of two leaders.
  3. Serving as coach: The program chair will guide the interns through the program via monthly conference calls and email exchanges. While the program chair is not responsible for serving as a mentor per se, they will help students move through the program and connect with other professionals and resources.
  4. Serving as host: The program chair serves as host at all four events, as well as any conference calls, connecting with the interns, welcoming them, and encouraging networking and professional growth.

AEA staff will be responsible for the operational aspects of the program, including overseeing student recruitment, handling logistics for all meetings, and funds management. The AEA staff and program chair will work collaboratively on selecting and securing placement sites. The program chair will work collaboratively with the AEA executive director to set policies regarding recruitment and identification of an advisory board responsible for student selection and general guidance for the program. The extent to which the chair participates in the selection and advisory process is at the chair’s discretion.

Chair Criteria

The program chair should meet the following six criteria:

  • Have completed a master’s or doctoral degree and be teaching or practicing in the field of evaluation
  • Have experience of successful teaching or training in the field of evaluation or related areas
  • Possess knowledge of the needs and experiences of traditionally underrepresented students and/or students of color
  • Have knowledge of culturally responsive evaluation practices
  • Have the ability to guide or coach students or young professionals
  • Be available to attend four training opportunities each year for the next two years as described above

This is primarily a volunteer, service-focused position. The program chair will receive travel support (airfare, accommodations, and registration) for the Summer Institute and for either of the stand-alone trainings not held within driving distance. The program chair will also be reimbursed for a hotel for up to three nights at the Annual Conference, recognizing the need to arrive early or stay late in support of the student interns. In addition, the program chair will receive a stipend of $10,000 in recognition of the facilitation work involved in leading this program.

In most recent years, the chair has also created opportunities for members of their internal team to participate in the process to learn how the program works and to offer administrative support and guidance.

Application Process

To apply on or before Thursday, October 15, 2015, please submit a letter of interest and a curriculum vitae or résumé via email to zgrays@eval.org. The letter should be no more than three pages in length and should detail:

  1. the ways in which you meet each of the six specified criteria;
  2. why you are interested in leading this program;
  3. any unique qualities, experiences, or background that you bring to this opportunity that would further enhance your ability to fulfill the role; and
  4. any specific support your place of employment/institution plans to offer you in this endeavor.

Questions? Please contact Denise Roosendaal, AEA executive director, at droosendaal@eval.org or (202) 367-1166.

 

Potent Presentations Initiative - Time to Deliver the Goods!

From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator 

Sheila Robinson-RS 2.pngTime for some true presentations confessions: I was so painfully shy as a young person that I would be sick on “oral report day” in school. The fear of public speaking lasted well into early adulthood where, as a teacher, I was fine with students but wouldn’t speak in front of adults for about the first 10 years of my career. Ten years later, however, I was fine. In fact, when I agreed to give a presentation just a few years ago to our district’s bus drivers and attendants (they numbered about 500), it was no problem! What happened in between? Practice. Lots of it!

Did you know that a high-quality presentation may take 16 times the length of your session to prepare? The key to presentation preparation lies in (1) developing a clearly articulated message; (2) crafting well-designed slides, handouts, or other visuals; and (3) devoting adequate time and attention to practice.

Check out the p2i tools page, featuring six downloadable resources on delivery. (That’s the most tools for any of the three elements – message, design, and delivery!)

Our Dynamic Dozen, those rock star presenters who were interviewed for this project, talked about the importance of practice for a successful delivery and offer these tips as well:

  • p2i August 2015 image_RS.pngBe natural
  • Ease your nerves
  • Assess the audience
  • Connect with the audience
  • Manage the audience
  • Pace yourself
  • Handle the discussion
  • Reflect
  • Revise

Download and read “Dynamic Dozen Delivery” on the p2i tools page for more on each of these key areas.

Want an additional resource to add to your virtual library? Check out one of my favorite blogs, Six Minutes, a site devoted to public speaking. Look for reader favorites in the “Tune Your Delivery” section on the homepage, and click “Delivery Techniques” in the menu bar, or type “audience” in the search box, for resources including an audience analysis tool. Six Minutes also features a list of other blogs on public speaking and presenting – over 100 of them! Have fun perusing and reading a few articles, but remember to save time for your own practice.

Once again, I’d like to share a great new resource in our ongoing effort to help you with message, design, and delivery. We are currently running a four-part AEA Coffee Break Webinar series with Stephanie Evergreen and Ann K. Emery that addresses all three p2i components. Click here for descriptions of each webinar (free for AEA members!) and to register. Missed the first two parts? No problem! Check out the Coffee Break webinar archives to view the recordings and catch up.

Has your Evaluation 2015 session proposal been accepted? Are you in need of some (free!) guidance on slide design? Email Stephanie Evergreen (Stephanie@StephanieEvergreen.com) and she will match you up with one of our talented and dedicated slide coaches for some one-on-one time prior to the conference. You will be matched with your coach by September 1, and the two of you can decide how you prefer to work together.  


International Policy Update - 10 Highlights About Evaluation and the UN's New Sustainable Development Goals

From Mike Hendricks, AEA Representative to the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), with contributions from Jim Rugh, EvalPartners Co-Coordinator 

RS - Mike Hendricks.png       Jim Rugh 2010.01.16.JPG

In late September, the United Nations General Assembly will almost certainly adopt 17 high-level Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that, for the next 15 years, will drive a set of coordinated global efforts toward “the world we want.” For us evaluators, the exciting news is that these SDGs have a much stronger emphasis on evaluation than did the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that the SDGs are replacing. But what are these SDGs, what are the exciting opportunities for evaluators, and what are some of the challenges ahead? Here are 10 highlights every evaluator should know:

What are these SDGs?

 1. Here are the 17 SDGs, and you can see that they run the gamut of the world’s problems. For example, Goal 1 aims to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere."

 2. Each SDG also has a number of specific targets the world will try to achieve. An example for Goal 1 is Target 1.5: “By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social, and environmental shocks and disasters.” Overall, 169 targets have been identified for the 17 SDGs.

 3. For each of these targets, one or more indicators (quantitative and/or qualitative) will be measured regularly to track progress, provide accountability to citizens, identify best practices, share lessons learned, and identify new and emerging issues. These global indicators will be complemented by additional indicators for regional and/or national levels. 

 4. The U.N. secretary general will prepare an annual report on the progress achieved for each of these indicators, targets, and goals.

Why are the SDGs exciting for evaluators? 

5. As mentioned above, the developers of these SDGs recognize the need for a much better system of following up and reviewing progress – specifically reviews that are “rigorous and based on evidence, informed by country-led evaluations and data which is high-quality, accessible, timely, reliable, and disaggregated… .” These requirements call for our types of skills.

 6. These reviews will be country led – that is, done by national governments themselves, not by multilateral organizations or outside donors – and many countries will need help to improve their evaluation capacities. AEA believes strongly in supporting strategies to increase national evaluation capacities around the globe.

What challenges do evaluators face with the SDGs?

7. Please read again item No. 2 above. What do you think of Target 1.5? Is it precise, with specifically defined groups and aims? Or does it contain seven or eight different elements, each of which might be difficult to measure? 

 8. Right now there are over 300 proposed indicators for the 169 targets, and a final list needs to be agreed on within the next six months (by March 2016). Do many national governmental systems have the capacity (or will) to routinely measure 300+ indicators? 

 9. Data and evaluation systems are very weak in some countries, with little to no baseline data and few, if any, mechanisms for gathering reliable new data.

10. Too many people involved with the SDGs know too little about evaluation, so when they envision reviews of the SDGs, they envision science or large-scale research. A great deal needs to be done to help audiences realize how much evaluation can help achieve the SDGs, not only by monitoring the specific indicators, but also by assessing what it takes to achieve the goals in various contexts.

Despite these challenges, it is very exciting that evaluation will become an integral part of the new SDG process. As you read last month, Tom Schwandt will be representing AEA in the new EvalPartners initiative called EvalSDGs, so Tom will be wrestling with many of these issues. Watch this space for his updates from time to time. You can also follow @EvalSDGs on Twitter.

 

Policy Watch - AEA Invited to Join Transitions in Governance 2016 Coalition 

From Cheryl Oros, Consultant to the Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF)

Cheryl Oros.jpgAEA has been invited to join a bipartisan coalition, Transitions in Governance 2016, organizing 10 discussion events on various topics related to management of the federal government. The coalition will prepare a management reform agenda for the incoming president and Congress that will focus on results, transparency, and efficiency. The coalition is coordinated by Carl DeMaio and The Performance Institute, and events will run from May 2015 through September 2016. DeMaio hopes that this coalition of think tanks, elected officials, and other stakeholders will also support a bipartisan implementation of a management improvement agenda well beyond 2016. You can view a complete list of coalition members on the website.

The next discussion session, titled Social Innovation and Evidence-Based Policy, will be held September 18, 2015. AEA’s president-elect, John Gargani, and past president, Mel Mark, will join the discussion and highlight AEA’s advice on evaluating federal programs. If you wish to attend in person, please submit your request to Meredith.Waters@PerformanceInstitute.org. The event is held September 18 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at The Performance Institute, 3101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia.

The group will post a survey on its website for professionals such as you to weigh in on prior to the discussion session and will use the survey results to generate discussion.

Also listed on the Transitions in Governance website are the transcript, summary document, and request for input on recommendations derived from the first discussion on Managing for Performance held in May 2015. Similarly, they will post a transcript of the September 18 session a few weeks after the event.

The survey and your comments on recommendations for the next administration are an exciting way for you to be directly involved in new directions for federal evaluation policy.


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