In this issue...
  • New Forum Online
  • Your Input, Please
  • Advocacy & Policy Change
  • Engaging Youths
  • Open to the Public
  • CES Conference
  • Milestones
  • Get Involved

  • AEA Newsletter
    April 2008

    Trochim Greetings AEA Colleagues!

    I recently returned from a two-day meeting of the AEA's Board of Directors that left me very excited about the organization's future. We're experiencing rapid membership growth, we're in good financial shape, and we have a great management team and a dynamic board of directors. One might be tempted to think that is as much as we could hope to achieve, but we're not stopping there. We are looking ahead and thinking about how we should evolve as we grow and how we can improve our responsiveness to the needs of our members.

    We heard a report on the AEA internal scan that was conducted among AEA members between July and February. This scan included a web-based survey of the entire membership and follow-up interviews and on-line discussion groups with samples of the membership. It provided us with an unprecedented level of information about the makeup of AEA and members' professional development needs.

    You told us about things you like, things you don't like, and things you need to help achieve your professional goals. You identified some options through which we can continue to promote excellence in evaluation practice, utilization of evaluation findings, and inclusion in the evaluation community. We're going to be sharing this information with you in coming months, and sessions at our November conference in Denver will showcase the findings as well as the actions we're taking based on them.

    The AEA Board has also been engaged in discussions over the last several years aimed at improving our ability to plan and operate more strategically. We've identified our mission and goals, developed values statements, and talked about how we can establish structures that keep us focused on those objectives while making us more flexible and responsive. We're now developing a strategic framework that will help us operationalize this thinking, and we're asking for input from committee leaders. We'll be seeking input from members on a host of issues in coming months, so stay tuned.

    It's an important time for AEA. We're excited about the future, and we look forward to working with you to take our association to the next level of development.

    Bill Trochim,
    2008 AEA President

    New Forum Online
    Audio and transcript of 2007 Public Issues Forum now available online

    The 2007 Public Issues Forum at the annual conference explored how state-of-the-art knowledge and expertise in evaluation can be more effectively linked to the formulation of evaluation policy at the federal level. Panelists from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Justice, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention addressed three major questions:

    1. How is evaluation policy established in their agency?
    2. What types of evaluation-related input would their agency welcome from a professional organization such as the American Evaluation Association?
    3. What are the means through which AEA could provide such input?

    The audio and written transcript from this thought-provoking session are now available online for review and download. This year's downloads join those from 2006 when the forum focused on the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) and its use in the federal government.

    AEA launched the Public Issues Forum in 2006 as part of its annual conference in order to address timely and important issues in the field. The forum is designed to encourage constructive dialogue and engender awareness among leaders, policy-makers, and the general public on topics having implications for the role, image, and implementation of evaluation in public contexts. Forums encompass a diversity of views on the selected issue, striving to present nuanced and thoughtful perspectives that will bring about deeper understanding. The topic that a forum addresses will be selected for its relevance and significance to the field of evaluation, for its immediacy, and for its location at the interface of evaluation and the public interest.

    For Evaluation 2008, the forum will explore multiple perspectives on the Politics of Evaluation. Stay tuned for more details as we draw closer to November.

    Go to the Public Issues Forum Online

    Your Input, Please
    Tell us about AEA conference session quality

    AEA is working to expand its avenues of communication. We want to hear more from you, our members, who are the association's most valuable asset. As one step in this direction, from time to time we'll seek your thoughts about issues, concerns, programs, and directions. This is an opportunity for informal input that can help to inform our broader thinking and data collection efforts. This month's questions come from the Conference Policy Committee and focus on conference session quality:

    • How would you describe the general quality of the sessions at the annual conference?
    • Is there anything about session content, delivery, type of session, or anything else, that has affected the quality of sessions you have attended? In what ways?
    • What would you like to see done differently to improve the quality of AEA conference sessions?

    Go to to share your ideas.

    Think broadly, contribute your thoughts, help make AEA better!

    Advocacy & Policy Change
    New TIG reflects changing interests

    AEA periodically spotlights one of its topical interest groups. This month we spoke with Julia Coffman and Astrid Hendricks, Co-Chairs of the Advocacy and Policy Change TIG.

    Can you share a brief history of your TIG?
    APC was created in 2007 in response to rapidly growing interest among evaluators, advocates, and funders about how to assess hard-to-measure advocacy and policy change efforts. Innovation was occurring, but many evaluators were unaware of new approaches and resources being developed. Establishing the TIG created an opportunity to help those interested in advocacy and policy change learn about, engage in, and contribute to the field's growth.

    How does the TIG communicate with its members?
    APC utilizes existing resources to communicate TIG news and to share with members new developments in the field. Our TIG was fortunate in that when we were founded, the organization where our Program Co-Chair works had an excellent website and newsletter focused on advocacy and policy change evaluation. Innovation Network's Advocacy Evaluation Resource Center maintains a database of advocacy evaluation resources and offers a free Advocacy Evaluation Update newsletter that informs subscribers of new developments, resources, and perspectives. For more information, visit

    What are some of the TIG's accomplishments?
    APC has more than 350 members since its inception a year ago. The 13 sessions the TIG sponsored at the 2007 conference were almost all standing-room only. Sessions covered a wide range of issues, from evaluating community organizing to evaluating electronic advocacy efforts. We're also very proud of our membership's diverse experience base. Members work at the local, state, and federal levels, and they evaluate advocacy in the executive, legislative, administrative, and judicial domains. The TIG includes a number of advocates in addition to evaluators and funders and its members are involved with a broad range of policy issues, including the protection of animals and the environment.

    What are the future goals of the TIG?
    We expect our session track at this year's conference to be bigger and even more diverse. APC's focus intersects with those of many other TIGs, and we encourage members from TIGS such as Government; Systems in Evaluation; Program Theory and Theory- Driven; Nonprofit and Foundations; and Qualitative Methods to attend APC sessions. A core focus for 2008 will be connecting with other TIGs; APC hopes to organize a track of co-sponsored sessions at the Evaluation 2008 conference.

    How can members monitor new trends?
    For a look at recent developments in advocacy and policy change, visit APC's resource listing at
    http:// resource_list_nov2007_coffman.doc

    How can I become involved?
    To learn more, contact APC Co-Chairs Julia Coffman at [email protected] or Astrid Hendricks at [email protected].

    This TIG profile is part of an ongoing effort to spotlight the goals and activities of the AEA's more than 40 Topical Interest Groups. TIGs are the most immediate means in which AEA members can actively engage and participate in groups targeting specific interests. For more information, visit AEA's website.

    Go to AEA's TIG Directory

    saboflores2 Engaging Youths
    New book provides tools to involve youths

    AEA member Kim Sabo Flores has written a book to help professionals include youth in the evaluation process and to empower youths to become active participants. Youth Participatory Evaluation: Strategies for Engaging Young People is published by Jossey-Bass Publishing, a Wiley Imprint.

    From the Back Cover:
    Youth Participatory Evaluation: Strategies for Engaging Young People is a groundbreaking book that provides step-by-step, playful, and accessible activities that have proven effective and can be used by evaluators, educators, youth workers, researchers, funders, and children's and human rights advocates in their efforts to more effectively engage young people.

    Adds Sabo Flores:
    "The book tells numerous stories of how I have worked alongside youth participants and adult staff members to create effective evaluations. It is through our collective work that I have been able to develop playful accessible evaluation activities. This book is an attempt to share these activities with others who may wish to use them or to advance them. And one of the things that I have found most touching about publishing this book is that non evaluators are reading it. Who could ask for a more flattering outcome?"

    Sabo Flores is the founder and principal of Kim Sabo Flores Consulting. She has been an AEA member for the last 10 years.

    Jossey-Bass Publishing offers AEA members a special savings on its publications when ordered directly from the publisher. To receive your 20% discount, please use the Pomotional Code "AEAF8" online or by phone (1-800-225-5945).

    Go to the Publisher's Website

    Open to the Public
    International case studies explore evaluation in society

    A new book co-edited by AEA member Jonathan Breul focuses on evaluation in the public arena and the struggle to understand how best to use the information it generates. Open to the Public: Evaluation in the Public Arena is published by Transaction Publishers and is the 13th book in its Comparative Evaluation series.

    From the publisher's website:
    How, when, and under what circumstances does the actual use of evaluative information take place, and what are the forces at play? By compiling and comparing international case studies, Open to the Public: Evaluation in the Public Arena considers forces that make the information produced in evaluations increasingly "open to the public" and provides insights into the many factors that influence evaluation and its use in the public arena. Case studies include such current topics as "spin doctoring" of information by the media and this practice's relationship to evaluation studies, the hotly debated issue of school performance, and the controversial link between budget processing and government performance.

    Breul is Executive Director of the IBM Center for The Business of Government and a partner at IBM Global Business Services.

    Go to the Publisher's Website

    CES Conference
    May meeting in historic Quebec City

    The 2008 Canadian Evaluation Society Conference will be held May 11-14 at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. The theme of the 28th annual meeting is Sharing Heritages and evaluators from every continent are invited to join in this tradition of sharing in a spirit of ever-increasing openness to knowledge and diversity. "This is a wonderful context in which to express our collective pride in what we have accomplished, to reflect upon what we have become and to chart new directions for the profession," says the CES Conference Organizing Committee. "It's a great opportunity for the evaluation community to come together, to strengthen our mutual ties and to share our heritages."

    The CES organizers note that the 2008 CES Conference theme speaks to the principle, if not the fact, that each nation, each region, and each cultural community possesses specific knowledge, know-how and approaches. The conference is also an opportunity for evaluators to better structure "world evaluation heritage" by taking into account a diversity of viewpoints on various themes promoting rich and stimulating discussions for both the present and future, rather than by forced consensus. The conference objectives are 1) to share your recent evaluation experiences, with a focus on methodology and practices and 2) to take an objective look at your practices in order to promote evaluation development.

    Go to the CES website

    Changes in the Evaluation Community

    In Memoriam:
    Dr. Egon Guba
    passed away on March 26, 2008. The evaluation community has lost a leader, teacher, colleague, and friend to many. While at Ohio State, Dr. Guba was one of the founders of the Evaluation Center, now housed at Western Michigan University. He encouraged examination of scientific positivism through his edited volume, The Paradigm Dialogue, and, together with Yvonna Lincoln, authored two groundbreaking methodology texts, Naturalistic Inquiry and Fourth Generation Evaluation, as well as numerous other books and articles. He advocated for broad stakeholder input to the first edition of The Program Evaluation Standards, laying the foundation for their broad acceptance and use. Egon taught for over twenty years in the School of Education at Indiana University. His work has had a profound and long lasting impact on the ways in which many think about and practice evaluation. The AEA Community extends its condolences to his family, colleagues, students, and in particular to his wife and co-author, 1990 AEA President Yvonna Lincoln.

    Dr. David Fetterman
    , 1993 AEA President, has been selected to receive the Outstanding Higher Education Professional Award from the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. The annual award is based on scholarship, teaching, and administrative contributions to higher education and nominees are drawn from across the spectrum of those working in higher education contexts. Fetterman is the author of more than 10 books and myriad articles. His writings focus primarily on the areas of ethnography and empowerment evaluation and he currently serves as the co-chair of AEA's Collaborative, Participatory, and Empowerment Topical Interest Group. He has received AEA's Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Practice Award and Paul F. Lazarsfeld Theory Award. David is the Director of Evaluation in the Division of Evaluation in the School of Medicine at Stanford University. David, who did not know he was nominated, will receive the award in May during a special ceremony in Connecticut. Congratulations David!

    Your Contributions:
    Do you know of someone who has experienced a significant milestone in the evaluation community? Please share you milestones with Gwen Newman, AEA's newsletter editor, at
    [email protected]

    Get Involved
    Get the most out of your membership

    A short list of the many things to do right now to participate in the life of the association. Please click through to the appropriate item below.

    We'll have more to share over the coming months.

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    The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association of evaluators devoted to the application and exploration of evaluation in all its forms.

    The American Evaluation Association's mission is to:

    • Improve evaluation practices and methods
    • Increase evaluation use
    • Promote evaluation as a profession and
    • Support the contribution of evaluation to the generation of theory and knowledge about effective human action.

    phone: 1-508-748-3326 or 1-888-232-2275