P E R S P E C T I V E S:
Evaluation & Research News
In This Issue
Falling Prey to a Goal
What Economic Crisis Can Teach Us About Evaluation
SPOTLIGHT: Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

What's New at GRG?
Karen Gareis Photo

GRG welcomes research associate Dr. Karen C. Gareis.  Dr. Gareis joins the GRG team bringing over 15 years of research and teaching experience in social support, program evaluation, and gender topics.


Recently, GRG staff attended a Diversity Training seminar.  The seminar touched on ways in which evaluators can be sensitive to issues of racial/ethnic and gender diversity throughout the entire evaluation process: from working with team members and clients, to collecting data in a culturally relevant way, to incorporating attention to diversity as an evaluation point.

Spring 2009
This year marks the 20th Anniversary of Goodman Research Group, Inc. (GRG).  In celebration of our anniversary, GRG has newly designed its website at We pause and take a moment to reflect on some of the milestones since the company's inception in 1989:
  • Conducted nearly 350 research or evaluation projects for clients in many different fields since 1989
  • Grown from a one-person female-owned consultancy to a female-owned corporation with 15 employees
  • Staff have traveled to 35 states to conduct research
  • Worked on projects in education, health, science, technology, the arts, literacy, program planning, energy conservation, television, and multi-media
  • Lasted through five US presidencies
  • Lived to see the Celtics win one NBA Championship, Red Sox win two World Series, the New England Patriots win three Super Bowls 

Falling Prey to a Goal
ImageThe Boston Globe recently featured an article called "Ready, Set...Fail: Why Setting Goals Can Backfire." The article told the story of General Motors (GM) who, after setting a lofty goal nearly 10 years ago, fell victim to its own goals by focusing all its resources to try to meet that goal.

The company proceeded with tunnel-vision toward reclaiming 29% of the American market share - a goal that went unmet and led to GM's bankruptcy last year.  While setting goals is essential to program success, making audacious or poorly-defined goals can have unintended consequences and make goal-setters short-sighted when overly focused on that goal.  Becoming overly focused on an unrealistic goal can lead to missed opportunities and can cause program leaders to overlook other successes.  

When in the process of defining your program goals, the following guidelines can help you avoid the pitfall of having poor goals:

Recognize why having well-defined goals is important. 

Goals provide an important reference point for guiding a program's direction.  Setting goals can serve as a safeguard against taking on too much or becoming distracted from the program's primary purpose.  If no goals exist, or if they are vague, there is no benchmark for success.


What Economic Crisis Can Teach Us About Evaluation
Cambridge BridgeThis year, 2009, has marked one of the most difficult periods the US economy has faced since the Depression. The economic crisis has challenged the integrity of leaders and workers across many sectors - government, private business, and non-profits to education, finance, health care - who control the flow of resources across the nation. These challenges have been evident in the decisions and responses to controversies like executive bonuses at big companies, corporate bailouts, and tax reform. As the US looks to find ways to improve our ailing economy, the crisis reminds us of the need for greater accountability.

This article addresses the following questions:
  • What does accountability look like?
  • How does evaluation relate to accountability?
  • Is making accountability a priority a wise investment of time and resources?
JCK Logo

GRG is pleased to be working with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to evaluate JKC's Undergraduate Transfer program. This program provides financial and educational resources for high-achieving community college students to complete their bachelor's degree at a selective 4-year institution. 

GRG is in the first year of a 5-year longitudinal study of applicants to and recipients of the Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer program scholarship. The study is examining student outcomes by tracing their paths and achievements in order to identify the factors that facilitate or hinder their academic and professional success.

Why focus on community colleges?

In the past two years, there have been significant increases, as much as 10%, in the number of students enrolling in community colleges in the US.[1]  Community colleges are public 2-year postsecondary education institutions which primarily aware associate's degrees and certificate programs.  They typically enroll a diverse group of students and have a larger percentage of nontraditional, low-income and minority students than 4-year schools.[2]   

While nearly half of first-year community college students plan to transfer to a 4-year school, these students are more likely to leave college with no degree compared to those who matriculate directly into 4-years schools.  A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education cites that due to their increasing numbers, competition for transfer admission has increased to selective private colleges.  Additionally, community colleges need to have stronger advising in schools with low transfer rates. [3] Programs such as the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transferprogram offer financial and social support to students who want to have a successful transition. 

The program provides up to $30,000 each to 50 students annually toward tuition, living expense, books, and fees.  Today, it is the largest private scholarship program for two-year and community college transfer students.  Students have gone to top schools like Georgetown, Stanford, UCLA, Columbia, and Boston University.

Who was Jack Kent Cooke?

Jack Kent Cooke was a self-made billionaire from Canada, whose formal education ended when he had to leave high school to work to support his family during the Depression.    After selling encyclopedias door-to-door for 3 years, he earned his wealth through operating radio stations and newspapers in Canada.  When Cooke died in 1997 as US citizen, he left the majority of his estate to establish the Jack Kent Cook Foundation.  The Foundation was established in 2000.

His challenge to young people is still inspirational:  "Destiny demands you do better than your supposed best." 



[3] Laird, Bob.  (2009). "The Trouble with Transferring."  The Chronicle of Higher Education. [Commentary]  55 (29): B22