AEA July Newsletter

Diversity – AEA Partners with CREA at Evaluation 2015

From Zachary Grays, AEA Headquarters 

Zachary Grays.jpg

The American Evaluation Association (AEA) is proud to announce our upcoming 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 2015, November 9-14, 2015, in Chicago. 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. CREA is a culturally diverse and interdisciplinary global community of researchers and practitioners in the areas of (but not limited to) evaluation and assessment. CREA’s primary focus is to address the growing need for policy-relevant efforts that take seriously the influences of cultural norms, practices, and expectations in the design, implementation, and evaluation of social and educational interventions. CREA is the only university-based evaluation and assessment research center with a primary focus on the centrality of culture and cultural context in this work. A core group of longstanding AEA members comprise the founding and active members of the CREA community.

CREA’s international community has been tireless in its efforts to establish culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) in practice and in research, as well as among practitioners and policymakers who serve diverse populations with varied cultural norms and values. As a major contributor to CRE discourse and practice, CREA offers a range of professional development training focused on evaluation principles and methods within the context of CRE while also serving as a resource for training students and future evaluators. CREA’s successful 2013 and 2014 international conferences in Chicago offered symposia, presentations, roundtables, and professional development training to address the evolving conversations on culturally responsive evaluation and assessment. Its third international conference, The Next Generation of Theory and Practice: Rethinking Equity through Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment, will be held in April 2016 (also in Chicago) and will continue this effort. We are excited about the potential of this newly established formal partnership between AEA and CREA and we are looking forward to its launch at Evaluation 2015.

What can attendees expect from this AEA-CREA partnership? CREA will offer a thread of six professional development workshops on evaluation theory, methods, and practice grounded in culturally responsive evaluation during Evaluation 2015. Each workshop will be offered by CREA/AEA members with extensive expertise in the topics of their respective workshops. These workshops have been carefully selected by AEA and CREA to provide the most in-depth training on the topic and to expose the more than 3,500 anticipated conference attendees to this crucial cross-disciplinary material. While AEA will still offer the robust collection of workshops during the pre- and postconference dates as it has done in the past, attendees will have the added value of these specially tailored workshop options as curated by CREA. Registration for Evaluation 2015 will open during the first week of August. It is at this time that you’ll be able to peruse this year’s conference offerings and add new skills and resources to strengthen your evaluation toolkit.

AEA would like to thank Dr. Stafford Hood (CREA founding director) and the AEA members of the CREA community for providing conference attendees with this opportunity. As our global evaluation community continues to expand, recognition of the need for cross-disciplinary connections is even more evident in our efforts to better serve the diverse communities and stakeholders who use evaluation. Evaluation 2015 is expected to be one of the most highly attended evaluation conferences in AEA history and one of the most highly anticipated events of the International Year of Evaluation calendar. We are confident that this special thread of CREA workshops, in conjunction with the related plenary sessions, symposia, and papers at this internationally focused Evaluation 2015 conference, will further contribute to our efforts to become a more culturally responsive evaluation community. To learn more about CREA, the CREA 2016 conference, and more, click here.       


Potent Presentations Initiative – It’s Design Time and Help is Here!

From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator 

Sheila Robinson-RS 2.pngHello, Presentation Designers! You’ve just received that acceptance notice for your conference presentation (whether it’s Evaluation 2015 or any other event) and it’s time to start designing. Your content is all set.  Your paper is written, the evaluation project is complete, or you’ve decided on content for your workshop. You’ve even carefully crafted your message, a key component of a successful presentation.

Now it’s time to consider how you will design that presentation. Whether it is a paper presentation, an Ignite, a professional development workshop, a skill-building workshop, or a demonstration, your slides are your presentation’s wardrobe. You’re probably going to give at least some thought to what you will wear that day, right? You probably won’t choose the same outfit you would wear for cleaning the garage, right?

July15 p2i image 1.pngWell-planned visuals created with intention are key to successful presentations. Check out these free tools on design from the p2i toolbox. Most slide designers agree that slides should be simple with one idea per slide, limited text, and few (if any) bullets. Fonts and colors should be chosen with intention, and images should be high quality and purposefully selected and placed. And you don’t have to be a graphic designer to be able to update your slides. Check out the Fab Five Reboot (under “Slides” on the p2i “Tools” page), where five otherwise Potent Presenters received a free slide makeover.

For additional design help, check out Garr Reynold’s Top Ten Slide Design Tips for a quick review of the basics, or for a more comprehensive treatment of slide design principles, see Stephanie Evergreen’s book, “Presenting Data Effectively: Communicating Your Findings for Maximum Impact.” For beautiful slide design inspiration, see Nancy Duarte’s “Slide:ology,” now a presentation classic. I’ve even chronicled some of my own learning and dabbled in slide design here on my blog.

July15 p2i Image 2_RS 2.pngI’m also thrilled to share a great new resource in our ongoing effort to help with slide design as well as message and delivery. We currently have in the hopper a four-part AEA Coffee Break Webinar series with Stephanie Evergreen and Ann K. Emery that addresses all three components of the Potent Presentations Initiative. Click here for descriptions of each webinar (free for AEA members!) and to register.

Are you a Potent Presenter who has been following p2i and are familiar with our tools and resources? Are you a current member of the Data Visualization and Reporting (DVR) TIG? Do you want to help make the conference a more useful and beautiful place by helping other presenters get their presentations up to snuff before November? Sign up to be a coach in our virtual Slide Clinic, where you will be paired with an AEA member who needs some guidance. Expect to invest just a couple of hours over the next few months to make a big impact at the conference. Email Kate Tinworth at to sign up.

Image Credits: Font by Kostya Sasquatch via Flickr; Color blocks by zoom in tight via Flickr


International Policy Update – Tom Schwandt to Help Promote Evaluation of the 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

We are very excited that one of AEA’s most senior leaders, Dr. Thomas A. Schwandt, will be representing AEA on the core group of the just-beginning EvalPartners initiative EvalSDG. The letters “SDG” stand for Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 world-wide goals the U.N. is expected to approve in September to replace the expiring Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 

Thomas Schwandt_RS2.pngAlthough the MDGs did focus on specific indicators of various aspects of poverty, there wasn’t enough evaluation done to document the reasons for progress or to learn lessons on the process. To improve this situation, EvalSDG will be promoting a much stronger emphasis on evaluation in the design, implementation, and use of the upcoming SDGs. EvalPartners is developing EvalSDG in partnership with the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG), which is co-chairing the initiative. (See here for more information.)

Tom was asked by AEA President Stewart Donaldson to take on this important responsibility, and Stewart is thrilled Tom is willing to serve AEA – and evaluation globally – in this way. “Tom’s appointment is a strong signal that AEA believes that EvalSDG has tremendous potential for doing good, and Tom is the best person to help fulfill that potential,” Stewart said.

You may know Tom as editor-in-chief of our “American Journal of Evaluation” from 2010-2013, but he has many other impressive accomplishments to his credit: 

  • Ph.D. in inquiry methodology from Indiana University
  • Long-time professor at the University of Illinois
  • Fellow of the American Educational Research Association
  • Current member of the editorial board of “Evaluation”
  • Previous member of the AEA Board of Directors and previous chair of both our Ethics Committee and our Publications Committee
  • Recipient of AEA’s Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award for Contributions to Evaluation Theory
  • Author or co-author of over 80 articles or book chapters on evaluation issues
  • Recently published “Evaluation Foundations Reconsidered: Cultivating a Life of the Mind for Practice” (Stanford University Press)
  • Member of the Expert Advisory Panel of the Independent Evaluation Office of UNDP
  • Advisor to the Annie E. Casey Foundation in the U.S. and to the IDRC in Canada

Equally exciting is that Tom’s academic scholarship meshes very nicely with the practical challenges of the SDGs. Tom’s work focuses on the theory and practice of program evaluation, with particular emphasis on evidence-based policy and practice, data-driven decision making, and evaluating the quality of evaluation research. Among his many books, his 2012 book “Using Science as Evidence in Public Policy” seems especially relevant for EvalSDG.

The reason for our excitement is clear: AEA believes in the importance of EvalSDG, and we’ve asked one of our very best to help with this exciting new initiative. Tom Schwandt has eagerly jumped on board. Stay tuned to hear good things from EvalSDG.

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