AEA Newsletter: December 2016

Message from the Executive Director - The Strategic Future of AEA

By Denise Roosendaal

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In January 2014, the Board embarked on a multi-year discussion about the future of AEA. The first step was to re-envision the Ends Goals statements. (AEA follows a policy-based governance model and the Ends Goals are the strategic driver.) The newly-written goals focus on how the organization, its members, and society as a whole would be impacted if AEA were successful in all of its endeavors.

AEA End Goals

  1. Evaluators have the skills and knowledge to be effective, culturally competent, contextually sensitive, and ethical professionals.
  2. Evaluators share and benefit from a sense of professional affiliation.
  3. There is broad growth in the visibility and perceived value of evaluation.
  4. Informed policy builds the capacity of communities and organizations to engage in and learn from evaluation.
  5. AEA members value their membership.

A full, expanded list of the Ends Goals statements can be found online here.

Directors analyzed the Ends Goals and aligned them with the overall organizational mission.  We then analyzed the organization’s programs to see where the alignment and potential gaps might be.  Management then developed action plans for ways to move toward the achievement of the Ends Goals. The Board continues to work on identifying success indicators of these various objectives.

The strategic priorities for the next few years are:

  1. Professional development for evaluators
  2. Membership development for AEA
  3. Cross-discipline outreach

Two other areas are taking on importance in the coming year: engagement in federal policy on evaluation, and leadership and diversity in member engagement.

In an effort to communicate this entire endeavor, I solicited Ann Emery, an AEA member and leader in the data visualization discipline, to assist in creating a communication tool to describe the strategic planning process, as well as the future strategic direction of the organization. She assisted in developing a dynamic, recorded PowerPoint presentation narrated by me.

The Board and AEA management reviewed member surveys, conference surveys, organizational data, conversations with various members through focus groups, and outreach as well as a review of similar organizations. These Ends Goals and the subsequent strategic plan are living documents that will continue to evolve.

AEA’s tomorrow is dynamic and compelling. The focus of AEA’s work is to enhance the professionalism of the individual evaluator, as well as helping evaluation be an important tool for change in the overall society. The future includes an Evaluation Academy, an Evaluation Research and Policy Center, and an online evaluation marketplace to connect evaluators with evaluation users and provide tools and a supportive message on the important role of evaluators. We’d love to hear from you. Please offer your feedback by emailing me at droosendaal@eval.org. Thank you for the privilege of serving the evaluation community.

 

Diversity - Celebrating Continued Growth and Diversity

From Zachary Grays, AEA Staff

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We will soon close the chapter on a year that has been, among other things, impactful and polarizing in its events. Wrapping up the first year following The International Year of Evaluation, 2016 has marked a banner year of continued growth and commitment to the diversity initiatives (both globally and domestically) here at AEA and in the evaluation community at large. A few of the notable hallmarks from this year include: The AEA International Partnership Program continuing to connect and engage International VOPE’s for strategic partnerships, cross collaboration, and shared knowledge; The AEA Board of Directors announced that they will match contributions from this year’s Silent Auction dollar for dollar to further support the 2017 International Travel Program; The Graduate Education Diversity Initiative (GEDI) saw its largest cohort with 15 scholars hailing from all over the US (some of which include states and organizations that are brand new to the GEDI experience) who are engaged in evaluation work poised to greatly improve innumerous communities; and, with gracious support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, AEA was able to offer eight travel grants for Evaluation 2016 to graduate/doctoral level candidates, new graduates, and early career evaluators who self-identify as members of an under-represented population in the evaluation profession and who have never attended an American Evaluation Association (AEA) conference, an initiative that received overwhelming interest from candidates across the globe.

While there were many stories and narratives to celebrate, here are some of the highlights from this year.

Wish You Were Here: Evaluation 2016 By the Numbers

Diversity.jpgThis October, over 3,500 evaluators converged on the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, Georgia, to celebrate the 30th American Evaluation Association conference. And what a conference it was! What was by far most exciting was the unique, diverse tapestry of attendees that came together for six exciting days of education and learning. If you didn't have the pleasure of joining us in the Peach State, you missed out. And while I can't recreate the magic of the conference, may this "postcard by the numbers" give you an exclusive glimpse into this year's annual conference. Read more from the October newsletter report on the conference here.

The 2016 GEDI Cohort Evaluates the Eval2016 Design Loft in Atlanta

Before discussing the Design Loft sessions, we should explain who we are. The Graduate Evaluation Diversity Internship (GEDI) program is an American Evaluation Association (AEA) internship that aims to expand the pool of graduate students of color in the field of evaluation, stimulate the thinking in and practice of culturally responsive evaluation, and deepen the field of evaluation's ability to work in diverse settings. The program grew annually from a few GEDIs to include 15 cohort members this year. For our educational component, we attended Claremont Graduate University's Professional Development Workshop Series in Evaluation and Applied Research Methods in August, where we learned about evaluation approaches. For the practicum, each GEDI cohort member works a few hours a week at an industry or government partner site. Some of those sites are United Way of the Bay Area, University of Southern California's Shoah Foundation, and Partners in School Innovation. Read more here.

AEA's Partnership with CREA

Following a very successful collaboration at Evaluation 2015, the AEA is pleased to announce the continued partnership with the Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) to offer a unique thread of professional development training options as part of the pre- and post-conference offerings during Evaluation 2016 in Atlanta. CREA was established in 2011 in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with Stafford Hood, Ph.D., Sheila M. Miller Professor, serving as its founding director. Read more here.

Giant leaps have been made in the continued growth of cross-collaboration and connections made among colleagues across the globe. The year 2017 is already looking bright for diversity and inclusivity in the field of evaluation and I look forward to continuing to bring you those stories every month.

Have a story to share? Email me at zgrays@eval.org.

 

Potent Presentations Initiative - Evaluation 2016 Reflections, and What's on the Horizon for p2i in 2017

From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator

Another AEA conference has come and gone and evaluators gave 700+ presentations to an audience of over 3,500. What have we learned about the quality of our conference presentations with respect to the p2i principles of message, design, and delivery?

We were helped in this endeavor — understanding attendees’ perceptions of the presentations they attended, that is — by over 1,000 conference-goers who responded to the 2016 post-conference feedback survey. The good news? Many respondents (from both our 2016 and 2015 surveys) indicated over the last few years that they are indeed seeing improved quality of presentations, at least from some presenters.

The not so good news? Conference attendees are recognizing more p2i principles in action, but are also letting us know that not all presenters have embraced all principles of good presentation design.  

Attendees continue to be disappointed by some conference presentations, especially those with text-laden, bullet-ridden slides, and some complained about fonts too small for the audience to read. Others were unhappy with presenters who read their slides or papers to the audience. Survey respondents were also disappointed with presenters who didn’t make their central messages clear, or who seemed to have planned too much content for their time slots, and went over allotted time.

Thankfully, these same survey respondents also offered excellent suggestions for p2i’s future. First and foremost, people asked us to get the word out about Potent Presentations and the p2i tools, and we will make a concerted effort to communicate more widely and share p2i resources and through different channels in 2017.

Additional suggestions include:

  • Sharing examples of “before” and “after” slides or transformed presentations
  • Creating more templates and checklists
  • Developing brief video tutorials on p2i principles
  • Featuring blog articles on various aspects of Potent Presentations
  • Hosting webinars or other types of professional development courses on Potent Presentations

We will indeed follow up with these and other AEA member suggestions in 2017, but we would also love your help!

Here’s Where We Need Your Help

  • Have you successfully used p2i tools or p2i principles in your presentations?
  • Do you have “before” and “after” slide examples you would be willing to share?
  • Do you have ideas for, or are you interested in writing a blog article on, Potent Presentations?
  • Do you have an interest in sharing your tips for Potent Presentations through a brief video or webinar?

Please contact me at p2i@eval.org and let’s talk! I’m happy to help, offer guidance, or collaborate on any of these.

Finally, I’d like to recognize some people who have also contributed some great suggestions for the future of p2i.

I want to take a moment to introduce (or reintroduce) you to our current p2i Advisory Team members. These awesome folks have been here since the early days of the initiative and have maintained their interest in helping people develop their own high-quality presentations and helping spread the good word about p2i resources.

  • Ann K. Emery
  • Amy Germuth
  • June Gothberg
  • Stuart Henderson
  • Kylie Hutchinson
  • Susan Kistler
  • Chi Yan Lam
  • Johanna Morariu
  • John Nash
  • David Shellard

Happy New Year! Best wishes for a happy, healthy 2017!

 

AEA Values - Walking the Talk with Andrea Beesley

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This month two things are happening that have given me cause to reflect on AEA’s values. One is that at the end of the year I will transition into the presidency of the Colorado Evaluation Network (COEN), an AEA local affiliate. This means that I will be responsible for working with our board and membership to ensure that COEN offers its members ways to connect with one another and grow professionally. The other is that we in the education division at IMPAQ International have been planning our priorities and activities for 2017. There may be changes ahead for the education sector, but AEA’s values will still apply to my work no matter what. Here are my resolutions for enacting AEA’s values in 2017.

  • In 2016, fake news stories proliferated all over the internet—no better reminder of the importance of making warranted claims founded on evidence. At IMPAQ, we evaluate and enhance public programs and policies. Effective public programs in turn enhance the public good (Value i). There cannot be any enhancement of the public good without accurate information about programs. How else could we know if a program is better or worse than its alternatives or if it meets stakeholders’ needs? How else could we know how feasible a policy is to implement? As always, these judgments rely on evidence. This feels particularly appropriate for work in education, as contemporary K-12 standards also have a focus on reasoning from information and backing up claims with evidence. In 2017, I’m going to continue to be transparent with stakeholders about the claims that can be made about programs and why, given the evidence that’s available.
  • Values iv and v remind us of the responsibility to develop other evaluation professionals. In 2017, I’m committing to help develop Colorado evaluators through COEN. For me this means soliciting information from other local affiliates about how they help develop their members’ evaluation capacity and applying those ideas to our own affiliate, while being guided by suggestions and feedback from our members. I’m also going to be intentional about making the affiliate a professional learning community and having a specific capacity building purpose to every meeting and session, providing a platform in which members can share their knowledge with colleagues. And as in past years, we’ll bring in experts to share their wisdom with our members. At work, I’m going to support my evaluator colleagues as they take on new responsibilities by providing them with professional development resources, including those from AEA.
  • In 2017 I’m going to be more intentional about nurturing relationships that are important to my evaluation practice, such as connections with co-workers, evaluation colleagues, clients, funders, program participants, and other stakeholders. For me this means doing something every day, no matter how small, to strengthen these bonds.

I appreciate that AEA’s values are something that evaluators can have in common, regardless of their content area of methodological focus, and that they provide me with guidance in a time of change by reminding me of what’s important.

Dr. Andrea Beesley is an educational psychologist and former classroom teacher. Her evaluation work focuses on social-emotional aspects of learning, STEM education, formative assessment, curriculum efficacy, and rural populations. She is currently studying math identity development in after-school programs in South Carolina and New York. Dr. Beesley is a managing director in the education division at IMPAQ International.

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