From Learning to Action

During Evaluation 2017, we will explore four ways that our community can learn from evaluation to create better practices and outcomes. Evaluation is dependent on learning from each other and putting theory into action. Each learning opportunity presents unique challenges and together, as a community, I would like to answer the questions that will allow us to move beyond these challenges to find solutions to improve our programs and create greater good for society as a whole. Click on each learning opportunity to learn more.

Learning to Enhance
Evaluation Practices
       Learning What
Works and Why
Learning from Others        Learning About
Evaluation Users and Uses

Learning to Enhance Evaluation Practices: evaluation practices, including theories, methods and ethics, or lessons in diverse professional settings

The Challenge: Evaluation theory and practice has been dynamically developing with innovative and expanding approaches. What are new developments in practicing and teaching evaluation that may advance our contribution to the generation of knowledge about effective human action?

  1. What are the trends in evaluation methods with which evaluators of various levels of experience (novice, moderate, expert) should be aware? In what ways are program evaluation and performance measurement and management increasingly intersecting?

  2. How can conventional and innovative evaluation methods be combined to get the most learning out of evaluations?

  3. What are promising approaches to ensure continuing education for evaluators?

  4. How do we take into account context when conducting evaluations?

  5. How can evaluators foster intersections of evaluation and performance measurement and management to enhance learning from both?

Learning What Works and Why: evidence of what works and why in public policies, programs, and projects

The Challenge: Evaluation studies have been providing evidence about the effectiveness, efficiency, and utility of public programs and policies. We have been learning about mechanisms that contribute to the successes or failures of interventions. What have we learned about what works and why in different sectors and contexts, that could be useful for policy practitioners in improving public policies?

  1. What have we learned about effective ways to deliver programs and services in education, transportation, job training, international development, peace-building, etc.?

  2. How can evaluators help transfer lessons learned in one context to another? 

  3. In what ways have we learned more about what works and why than we did 10 years ago?

  4. What have we learned about behavioral and social mechanisms that affect interventions’ successes and failures?

  5. How do performance measurement and management contribute to the successes or failures of interventions, and maintaining fidelity to evidence-based models?

Learning from Others: innovations from other communities that have been or could be incorporated into evaluation practice

The Challenge: New communities such as behavioral insight teams, social labs, big data analysts, and design thinkers offer new insights to inform effective programs and policies. What can we learn from other communities, including evaluation communities outside of the US, to advance evaluation practice and knowledge about promising tools and approaches?

  1. What can evaluators learn from decision, behavioral, and organizational science about enhancing evaluation impact?

  2. Given the global development of the evaluation field, what have been the contributions of other disciplines to evaluation in recent years?

  3. How can we learn from other evaluation communities across the world, including African, European, Australasian, and South American?

  4. What can we learn from experience using social labs?

  5. What promises and challenges do “big data” and “data analytics” bring to evaluation practice?

  6. How can we draw from implementation science to systematize and strengthen our implementation and process evaluations?

  7. How can we bridge the gap between evaluation and other disciplines?

  8. How can evaluation incorporate some of the thinking in related fields to inform emerging evaluators and evaluation training?

Learning About Evaluation Users and Uses: insights on users of our evaluations, our place in policy decision-making, and effective strategies to increase evaluation utilization

The Challenge: For years’ evaluators have been struggling to increase meaningful use of evaluation by stakeholders. What have we learned about users of our work, their ways of acquiring and using knowledge, and useful ways to support them in applying evaluation findings to improve practice?

  1. What do decision-makers and other users want to learn from evaluation, and what can be done to enhance the interest and involvement of evaluation stakeholders?

  2. How can evaluators become knowledge-brokers within organizations and networks to enhance evaluation use and influence, and contribute to knowledge-based decision-making?

  3. What is a lesson learned? Is it sufficient to create change?

  4. What is, and what should be, the role of evaluation and evaluators in ensuring that evaluation results are useful and get used? To what extent should evaluators contribute to development or improvement of performance measurement and management systems?

  5. What have we learned about how evaluation can contribute to the general and public welfare, as prescribed in the AEA Guiding Principles?

  6. How can evaluation contribute to individual and organizational learning for evaluation sponsors and stakeholders?

  7. What can be done to enhance the relationship and influence of evaluation in policy making, decision making, strategic planning, program management, and accountability?

  8. How do federal efforts regard “what works” and “evidence-based policy” impact learning from evaluation?

  9. How can evaluation functions be institutionalized in contexts where there is only a nascent evaluation culture? What role do evaluators play in fostering a culture of learning?

Given the focus on learning, I encourage all who submit proposals to think creatively and design innovative learning experiences for attendees. -Kathy Newcomer

AEA President

Evaluation 2017 Video Contest

We want to know what the Evaluation 2017 theme: From Learning to Action means to you! We challenge you to share your thoughts on this year’s theme through a short video. Up to five winning videos will be selected by a peer committee of AEA members. Prizes will be awarded to the individual selected with the winning video. Submission deadline is Tuesday, May 30. Click here for details.