Friday, July 31, 2020
Hello, AEA Members! I hope this finds you well and you’ve been enjoying the summer (for those in the Northern Hemisphere). I also wish to express my concern for anyone who may have experienced a loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is affecting us all in varying degrees, and I wish to acknowledge any loss, fear, or anxiety that pervades us all right now. As I like to assert in my messages here, please look for the love around you. Find joy in being in the sun, or a walk in nature. These are so healing for us in these times. In my continued support of the annual theme (“How will you shine your light?”), I urge you all to check out the HeartMath Institute’s Global Coherence network, events, and app (HeartMath Global Coherence Initiative). See how the light from your own heart contributes to the world.
The past few months have been a whirlwind of activities, including nearly 15 hours of board meetings across the month of June. A great deal of decisions have been made with the sincere desire to improve AEA for all members. These decisions have been researched, investigated, and deeply deliberated among the AEA Board; and while we understand frustration in a seemingly lack of communication from us, we made these decisions with the very best of vision and intention in mind for AEA’s future. We are actively working on improving transparency in our processes and increased communication. We hear you all who have reached out to us, and we care.
We are excited, as an organization, to be pivoting our focus to our newly imagined virtual experience for the annual AEA gathering. We are all working to create a virtual experience that can spotlight our brightest lights during our conference week, and hope you will plan to engage. We hope that the shift to virtual also allows for many others around the world to consider joining, as the limitations of space will not apply. We feel it is important that a collective gathering of evaluation voices is critical during these times of global transitions.
Be on the lookout for the annual AEA elections announcements, read up on your candidates, and be sure to vote! Please make sure to urge your friends and colleagues to do the same. Active participation in the AEA elections process across a wide number of members is how we ensure more diverse voices are placed in AEA positions of leadership. Serving in AEA has been one of the most rewarding, professional experiences of my career. I urge you all to consider entering leadership through TIGs, Affiliates, or simply getting your name out there with an AEA365 post. It takes all of our voices to collectively create the AEA of the future!
From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator
I’ve just finished up an evaluation report for a statewide organization that offered numerous online courses of varying lengths over a period of several months. Having been steeped in the data for weeks now, I have a good handle on what people want in their online courses; these can translate to online presentations and meetings as well.
We need your help!
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk! I’m happy to help, offer guidance, or collaborate on any of these.
From Dana Wanzer, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology in Evaluation
This summer has been a time of reflection due to physical distancing, transitioning to remote teaching, and the growth in the national visibility of and support for the movement for Black lives. This time of reflection was a pause on “walking the talk,” because I first had to grapple with what walking and talking meant to me personally. I had to sit down and think through what my personal values were and how I would embody them in my everyday life.
I have never explicitly stated or evaluated my personal values because I merely adopted the ones our white dominant society presented to me: civility, perfectionism, a sense of urgency, defensiveness, dichotomous thinking, paternalism, etc. As a white, heterosexual, cis-gendered woman with a privileged academic background and job, it was easy to accept these as-is, without reflection. It was comfortable. It was white supremacy.
The first challenge to my personal values occurred during my job talk for my now position at UW-Stout. A graduate student asked me, “How does social justice affect your evaluation practice?” My initial gut reaction was: it doesn’t. And sadly, that was true. I never thought explicitly about social justice beyond the idea that there was a fourth branch on Mertens and Wilson’s (2019) adaptation of the evaluation theory tree. That began a quest to bolster — and in some ways challenge — my formal education. I began reading, discussing these topics with friends and colleagues, and slowly adding what I learned to what and how I taught evaluation to students.
A year-and-a-half later, George Floyd was murdered by police, and I left the comfort of my home to go protest in the little rural town I live in. I had always supported the Black Lives Matter movement, but never had I truly walked the talk until I stood at the corner of our biggest intersection with my sign. I began to realize how much easier it was to read books on anti-racism than to practice anti-racism.
After attending a couple demonstrations, I wanted to continue “walking the talk.” I wanted to help change the world and make a difference! I dove head-first into new projects and ideas, wrote and disseminated things, and realized quickly that I had re-submerged into the pool of the white dominant society’s values, not my own. I felt the urgency to get things done, to do things big, perfectly, and mostly by myself. I quickly became defensive when people who cared pointed out that my actions were the characteristics of white supremacy in action.
This was the juncture at which I realized I needed to pause, slow down, and reflect. So instead of walking the talk lately, I’ve been figuring out and explicitly determining my set of personal values, seeking inspiration alignment with scholars, friends, and colleagues, primarily those who are Black, indigenous, or people of color.
Some values were easy to determine, like valuing openness and transparency, which I embody through open science practices, sharing resources and research through my blog, and being honest with my students about what I am teaching and why. Other values have been far more difficult, presumably because they more directly challenge the white supremacist culture ideology I had internalized for so long. For example, the work of the Equitable Evaluation Initiative has emphasized to me that it is not enough to have diversity and inclusion if equity is not front and center.
As I continue to reflect on my values, I look in-part to AEA’s values. There are some values that resonate deeply with me, such as having evaluations that are “high quality, ethically defensible, and culturally responsible.” There are others that I would modify, such as valuing equity in addition to diversity and inclusion. And there are yet others that I would add, such as valuing advocacy efforts on behalf of the evaluation field (AEA Professional Practice Competency 1.9).
More than anything, I am realizing that “walking the talk” and truly living out AEA’s values is an enduring process that is constantly evolving as I pause, slow down, reflect, and challenge my role in white supremacist culture.
From Sarah Stachowiak, Kat Athanasiades (co-chairs), Rhonda Schlangen, and Zsuzsanna Lippai (program co-chairs)
Who We Are
The Advocacy and Policy Change (APC) TIG provides a forum for communication, learning, mutual support, and professional development for those interested in evaluating broadly defined advocacy and policy activities. As described on our TIG’s website, the APC TIG includes members who work to develop and practice evaluation of both discrete advocacy activities — like community organizing, coalition building, or lobbying — as well as broader methodologies for evaluating within the complexities of different policy environments.
Actions to Undo Racism and White Supremacy in Our Field
As APC TIG leadership, we feel a responsibility to try and impact our part of the field to do less harm and promote equity. We want to unequivocally state that we support our Black colleagues. We support our Indigenous colleagues and our People of Color colleagues. We believe that Black lives matter, and we support dismantling white supremacy in all its forms. But words and statements are not enough. Racism and white supremacy are baked into our culture and field in ways we must actively work against if we want to be anti-racist in our work and see equity as a result.
Building on a previous statement from the 2019 APC TIG leadership, the four of us offer a proposed set of actions with humility and a desire to spark a broader conversation and collaborative effort among our part of the field regarding what the APC TIG can do to dismantle white supremacy and support our BIPOC colleagues. We are a leadership team composed of four white cis women, and we recognize that we have developed and promoted evaluation practice in the past that is exploitative and inequitable. We have our own un-learning and work to do for our actions to meet our intent. While we each are doing our own personal and professional work to be anti-racist, as a group, we must act to question evaluation’s and evaluators’ position and role to dismantle and address privilege, structural inequity, unconscious bias, and the intersections of marginalizations.
APC TIG Commitments to Action, 2020-2021
Below is a selection of our commitments to action during 2020-2021. For the full list of commitments, and to offer suggestions, please go to our Google doc with our full statement.
While we realize that many of our fellow APC evaluators, especially those from BIPOC communities, are presently burdened with care and professional responsibilities. If you have the time and the energy, we would appreciate your feedback on our proposed commitments. You are welcome to offer suggestions in this Google doc, or by emailing APC TIG leadership. We hope that together we can identify meaningful actions that will help advocacy and policy change evaluation do its part to undo white supremacy. We do not want this to be a broadcast only, rather an invitation to engage with us. Thank you to those of you who have already contributed meaningful and thoughtful ideas to these commitments.
Read the full statement here.
If you are a member and/or leadership for another TIG that is aligned with the APC TIG commitments, we would love to collaborate with you. Please reach out to Kat (email@example.com) and Sarah (firstname.lastname@example.org) to start a conversation. We are excited to explore what is possible.
Do you lead or participate in one of AEA's Topical Interest Groups (TIGs)? We want to hear from you and spotlight your work and actions you're taking amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Send an email to the AEA editor, Cady Stokes (email@example.com) to share news, updates and articles for consideration in an upcoming AEA newsletter.
Are you new to evaluation? Do you have questions, curiosities, or concerns about the industry? Are you debating career opportunities, upcoming goals, solutions to current issues, or are just seeking some friendly advice? The only way to grow in your profession is by asking questions. In our new series, Ask AEA, we want to provide our members with that opportunity by providing as many resources and guidance as possible. Answers come from our member community. Submit your questions here.
Read below for advice on leveraging AEA resources to build your skill set and where to start when seeking new career opportunities.
Name: Kate Satterfield
Title: Manager, Strategic Learning
Company: New Morning Foundation
Years in the Field: 4
I've worked in what one might call "internal evaluation" for several years, now, but I am brand new to AEA. I'm struggling to find how I, as a newcomer, might better leverage AEA as a resource for building my skill set. I just don't know where to start. I had hoped the TIGs might be a good resource, but they also seem more set-up for people who are established and involved in that niche. Any pointers?
Welcome to AEA! My name is Zachary Grays and I’m the Senior Membership and Operations Coordinator here at AEA. You are right on in looking into TIG membership as a great first step in dipping your toes in the cool waters of AEA, specifically for networking. In terms of expanding your skill set, you will benefit greatly from our educational offerings. Here is what AEA membership gets you:
These are a few first steps into leveraging your AEA membership to build your skill set and there are certainly others (annual conference, Summer Institute, etc). These are just a few starters. If none of these are of interest to you, though, we’re more than happy to provide more options via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope this was helpful!
Title: Online Program Evaluator
Years in the Field: 2
I'm new in this filed. I have two master's degrees in adult education and health professions education from a Canadian University. Unfortunately, I'm not really sure where I can find the career opportunities or related job. I'm member of a few associations, however, I'm completely confused about seeking opportunities in the wide-world. Please give me advice.
Hi There! Zachary Grays from AEA Staff here! While I can’t recommend specific titles to search (there are so many!), I can point you in the right starting positions to help refine your search. A great place to uncover job titles that align with your skillset is to use the AEA Career Center. Our newly enhanced career center is a treasure trove of career and RFP opportunities and is historically one of the most trafficked areas of the AEA website (by both employers and job seekers). As a member, you can post your resume’ to be searched or you can search the posted positions to get a good sense of what the market is demanding in terms of available jobs. You can also setup email alerts to be notified when your ‘dream job’ is posted J.
Networking is a critical skill to keep in your toolkit when job hunting. Consider plugging into local affiliate networks in your region, as they frequently host events that might help connect you with a future opportunity. Based on your degree background, I also recommend reaching out to the TIG leadership of the Health Professions Education, Evaluation & Research TIG to further connect. I hope all of this is helpful! I’m sure with all three of those resources you’ll find what you’re looking for in no time!
*Questions may have been edited for AEA style purposes
Submit your questions for the chance to be featured in AEA's monthly newsletter. Make sure to stay up-to-date on the latest issues to receive answers to your questions from professionals in the field.
From Tessie Tzavaras Catsambas, AEA Board Secretary and Immediate Past President
Dear AEA Members,
When we started the new year in January, we sure did not expect to be dealing with so many game-changing crises’, alongside the menu of issues that regularly come to the AEA Board.
The new AEA issue under the COVID-19 crisis is having to cancel our beloved annual conference. Luckily, AEA Executive Director Anisha Lewis and staff are exploring virtual event possibilities, even as we manage an unprecedented budget challenge with an unpredictable revenue flow. While other organizations that typically have large conferences are cancelling, AEA is working above and beyond to make a smaller, online virtual event still take place. It will feel very small compared to what we are used to having, but it will be a great opportunity to pilot a virtual event and learn how to host larger online events for AEA in the future, as needed. Thank you, AEA staff!
This month, we met with members of the Retired Task Force on member engagement, leadership and diversity to hear from them on the issues shared in the report; the recommendations of that task force have been influential in how the board sees its role and conducts its work, and also in how the board monitors AEA operations. Some of you are urging us to be bolder in our vision for AEA, and we agree. As we approach AEA’s 35th anniversary, we are organizing a process for a deep-dive of who we are at AEA, and who we want to become. This is precisely the role of a board under policy-based governance: to invite the association to look ahead, and position it to thrive in the future.
Meanwhile, we have continued to hear from you on our decision to close down the EvalTalk listserv, after exchanges on the listserv became disturbing and unprofessional (not for the first time, unfortunately). Some of you expressed concerns about not having a venue to connect with AEA colleagues, while some of you want the new AEA listerv (that will re-open) to be open to non-AEA members as well. Our staff is moving rapidly to assess what is possible, prudent, and affordable, and we share your urgency to have a new listserv up soon. Please know that if there was another way to resolve this issue, we were unable to find it. We acted for the best of the association and our members. In fact, these crises are connected to our ability to get a clear grasp of who we are, what behaviors we want to uphold, how we treat each other, and what we stand for in the world. This is the work we need to do together with all of you.
We appreciate all of the feedback, and we hear the feeling and conviction in your messages. You make us aware of issues, and you offer good advice and ideas. Your feedback is part of the debates and discussions we have inside the board. As board members, we frequently disagree, but we always respect each other, and we are always eager to see issues from others’ different perspectives. We take the responsibility you entrusted in us with your vote very seriously, and strive to be worthy stewards of your trust.
Past President and Board Secretary
From Scott Chaplowe, AEA International Working Group representative in EvalSDGs
The COVID-19 crisis is a compelling lesson on the interdependency between human and natural systems, and the formidable challenges ahead for both. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that underpin the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offer an integrated framework to respond to the complexities of such crisis.
Coronavirus is much more than a health crisis; it is a human and environmental crisis. COVID-19 is zoonotic (from animals), and results from increasing human encroachment on and interactions with nature. “The root causes are the same that drive climate change, species loss, and all environmental degradation: economic growth, quest for more resources, and space for humanity,” explains Juha Uitto, director of the Independent Evaluation Office of the Global Environment Facility.
Increasing pressure on the ecosystem strains social systems, begets social unrest, and complicates our ability to govern ourselves. The convergence of pandemic, racial upheaval, and global warming attest systemic coupling of ecological and social systems, and the multiplier effect when one component in the system reaches a threshold and tips into the other system components. In short, COVID-19 and the interrelated challenges qualifies as what evaluators such as Donna Mertens refer to as a “super wicked problem,” meaning hyper-complex, big-ticket problems characterized by multiple interacting systems, non-linearity and uncertainty that defy traditional analysis and solutions.
The SDGs offer a system-sensible framework for the COVID-19 crisis and the interrelated complex challenges we confront today (and tomorrow). The 17 Goals, 169 targets, and 232 indicators are not perfect, but then, any conceptual model is only an approximation of reality. What the SDGs have going is their international recognition and credibility: adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, they are the most large-scale legitimation attempts made by an international organization in recent times.
The very thing for which the SDGs are often criticized – being too broad and complex – are their very attributes for responding to the wide-ranging impacts of super wicked problems like COVID-19. For instance, check out the conceptual map of how COVID-19 affects each of the SDGs from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA, p. 12). While simple, (and remember that conceptual diagrams should clarify rather than confuse), it illustrates how the virus affects each of the SDGs, from devastating effects on health outcomes (SDG 3), to unemployment and lower income (SDG 8), and increased inequality (SDG 10). For a more nuanced presentation and discussion, see the Guide to SDG Interactions: from Science to Implementation from the International Science Council.
As evaluation thought-leader Thomas Schwandt points out, evaluation has tumbled along with the rest of the world into “post-normal” times, characterized by complexity, chaos, and contradictions. Along the way, many evaluators are becoming “hip” to this unpredictable and urgent reality, giving increasing attention to systems and complexity thinking, e.g. see the Systems in Evaluation TIG’s Principles for Systems Thinking. The SDGs offer a valuable tool to add to our systems toolbox to measure and assess the interconnected global problems we confront and solutions we pursue.
Don't forget — this is of course something you should feel free to promote with your members — all AEA members can receive a 20% discount when they order through the website www.oup.com/academic using the discount code AEA20.
If you are a publisher and would like to participate as an AEA publishing partner, or if you are an author of an evaluation-related text from an alternate publisher that you would like to see participate, please contact the AEA office at email@example.com.
AEA's top priority at this time is the health and well-being of its members and the evaluation community as a whole. We understand this is a strenuous and difficult time, and are dedicated to providing you with support and resources to help you navigate the evolving effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
We want to remind you of a few of our resources to help you through this time.
Topics covered include Reflecting on the Role of Evaluator During this Global Pandemic, Tips + Resources for Virtual Gatherings, and Self-Care in the Age of Coronavirus.
Click here to subscribe to AEA365. We will continue to share resources and experiences of our community.
While you are looking to stay connected to your teams, we recommend browsing the AEA Coffee Break library on the Digital Knowledge Hub. These 20 minute webinars are free to all members.
If you have resources you think would be valuable to the evaluation community, share them with us by contacting AEA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this section, we spotlight events of interest to the AEA community, suggested by fellow members. Please note these events are not sponsored by AEA. If you would like to suggest an upcoming event, email Cady Stokes, AEA newsletter editor, at email@example.com.
From the AEA Education Team
The Digital Knowledge Hub is an online platform featuring professional development opportunities for evaluators, by evaluators. See eStudies available for purchase like the ones below.
While many of us are working from home the next few weeks, we wanted to remind you that AEA membership provides several exclusive resources to expand your knowledge in the comfort of your own home. Discover the online resources that are available and learn more about upcoming events.
AEA staff worked with accepted Summer Evaluation Institute presenters to identify workshops that can conform to a digital learning experience. These digital workshops provide opportunities to have meaningful discussions with your peers, ask presenters questions to work through challenges, and learn first-hand from experts in the field.
Repeat - Mixed Methods Design in Evaluation
When: Tuesday, August 11, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Presenter: Donna Mertens
Price: Members: $150; Nonmembers: $200
Including costs of programs can help your evaluation get funded, read, and used.
Developments in the use of mixed methods have extended beyond the practice of combining surveys and focus groups. This workshop combines theory and practice, based on the evaluation branches identified by Alkin (2013) and Mertens and Wilson (2019). The sophistication of mixed methods designs in evaluation based on different theoretical frameworks will be explained and demonstrated through illustrative examples taken from diverse sectors and geographical regions. Examples of mixed methods designs will illustrate application of different theoretical frameworks for projects that focus on determining the effectiveness of interventions. Participants will have the opportunity to create mixed methods designs using evaluation vignettes for each approach to evaluation.
Visual Note-Taking 101: Encouraging Dynamic Participation through Visual Storytelling
When: Wednesday, August 12, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Contributors: Katherine Haugh
Price: Members: $150; Nonmembers: $200
Research shows that visual note-taking is not only an effective learning tool, but also that visuals increase levels of employee engagement in the workplace. In this session, participants will learn about the basics of visual thinking and how to apply visual note-taking techniques to strengthen the use and application of their evaluation work. The session will teach participants how to use visual note-taking as a reflection, communication, and facilitation tool. In the session, participants will learn how to draw out basic concepts and ideas and how to tell a visual story with simple shapes, symbols, and visual cues. Participants will walk away from the session with the ability to use visual note-taking to boost retention of evaluation concepts, develop creative ideas by drawing connections, and share knowledge quickly and effectively.
This session has been designed using principles of adult learning in order to optimize the learning experience for session attendees and will be led by a facilitator with over a decade of professional experience in visual-note-taking and facilitating.
View the full Summer Series schedule.
The Digital Knowledge Hub contains live and recorded eStudies. eStudies offer in-depth lessons on trending evaluation topics, skills, and tools. Expert speakers share their experiences and offer time to answer your individual questions.
Upcoming Live Courses:
Here are a few Coffee Breaks you might be interested in:
In this section, we spotlight events that may be of interest to the AEA community, as suggested by fellow members. Please note these events are not sponsored by AEA. If you would like to suggest an upcoming event, email Cady Stokes, AEA newsletter editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this section, we spotlight events of interest to the AEA community, suggested by fellow members. Please note these events are not sponsored by AEA. If you would like to suggest an upcoming event or highlight actions members are taking during the COVID-19 crisis, email Cady Stokes, AEA newsletter editor, at email@example.com.
AEA would like to recognize and thank some of its most longstanding members. Click here to view individuals who are celebrating 5+, 10+, 20+ and 30+ years with the association this month!
AEA would like to welcome those who have recently joined the association. Click here to view a list of AEA's newest members.