In this issue...
  • New Initiatives
  • Institute News
  • Notable Figures
  • AGES Event
  • Updated Bestseller
  • Evaluator Competencies
  • Get Involved

  • AEA Newsletter
    July 2008

    Trochim Dear AEA Colleagues,

    The AEA Board of Directors is making some exciting changes that will enhance its ability to engage members, manage the association's continued growth and strengthen the field of evaluation. At its June meeting in Denver, the board voted to adopt a policy-based model of governance effective January 1, 2009. Under this model, the board will focus its efforts on engaging with members, setting AEA's goals and policies, and monitoring how well the association achieves those goals through its operations.

    In the last five years alone, membership has grown by nearly 60% from 3,579 to 5,683, attracting both practitioners and researchers from increasingly varied areas of practice. Through many years of work with our outstanding association management company (AMC), we have placed AEA on an enviable financial footing that has allowed us to keep our dues and program fees relatively low, and our programs widely accessible.

    At our June meeting the Board approved new processes and technologies for enhancing member volunteer opportunities and began planning how the board itself can extend its direct contacts with members through a variety of mechanisms. The board will also focus much of its work on developing policies that reflect the mission, values, and goals of our association, and we will enhance transparency by making these policies and other key board records publicly available. The board will move away from "nuts and bolts" management of operational details and towards a model of oversight and monitoring of operations to ensure that they remain aligned with our expectations.

    This shift is critically important for us to sustain and manage our growth and to accommodate the varied needs of our increasingly diverse membership and the field at large. We will focus not only on getting more people involved in the operations of our association and in the field of evaluation, but also in making their involvement more meaningful. As the board becomes more member-focused and policy-focused, day-to-day operations will be increasingly managed by the AMC and through operational volunteer advisory groups and task forces assembled to generate ideas, and to plan for and reflect upon specific programs and projects. This will enable members to be more integrally involved in AEA operations and will make AEA more flexible and responsive to changing needs.

    This step marks an important phase in AEA's evolution. Like many associations, in our earliest days we were essentially run by volunteers. Several years ago we moved to professional staffing through an Executive Director and AMC with the board managing both strategic and operational affairs. These activities require a great deal of energy and attention from both board and staff. Our current effort represents the next logical step, with the board focusing on policy, strategy, and ensuring member involvement at all levels while addressing operations primarily through delegation to and monitoring and oversight of the Executive Director and AMC.

    This ambitious agenda will present both opportunities and challenges. We'll be discussing our upcoming changes at length with you at our November conference and over the next year, as we work to put this plan in motion. We are confident that we can count on the continuing help and support of our members and that you will find these changes exciting and engaging.


    Bill Trochim,
    2008 AEA President

    New Initiatives
    Coming Soon to AEA

    The President's letter above lays out a roadmap for the evolution of the association. We wanted to provide you with a specific list of what to keep your eye out for over the coming months:

    • Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals: We'll be vetting widely among the membership a draft mission, vision, values and goals statement. Between late summer and the end of the year, you will see announcements in the newsletter and opportunities for feedback, reflection and discussion around this key document.
    • Member Involvement: We'll be expanding the ways in which members can be involved and enhancing the transparency and accessibility of the volunteer engagement process. You will begin to see more information about volunteering and ultimately, by this time next year, will be able to access an online volunteer resource and referral center.
    • Member Input: A key commitment of the board as we move to policy governance is an expansion of the ways and means for learning from and representing the members of the association. We'll be working at our meeting in November to explore expanding avenues for listening and learning from members.
    • New Technologies: We will be upgrading and expanding our online systems, incorporating a web-based resource library that members and groups can manage and use, (the number one request emerging from the member scan), enhanced directory, a discussion and forum system, and mini-websites for subgroups of the association. The full roll-out will take the better part of a year, but stay tuned for key components to be up and running by the conference as well as for volunteer opportunities around planning for and maximizing our new technology resources.
    • Enhanced Communications: The new technology system will allow for more targeted communications and a centralized clearinghouse where you will be able to sign up for those lists and emails that you wish to receive. In addition, you will be able to subscribe to updates and RSS feeds as content gets added to our online system.

    So, stay tuned, stay in touch, and enjoy your summer. We are excited by what is to come!

    Institute News
    Board approves on-going summer training program

    After three cycles of year-to-year approval and appropriations during which we were refining content, format, and logistics, the AEA Board of Directors approved ongoing support for the AEA/CDC Summer Evaluation Institute. Thus, we anticipate offering training in Atlanta each summer for the foreseeable future.

    The Institute welcomed over 650 attendees to Atlanta this past June 22-25, the largest gathering of its kind to date. Attendees represented 40 states, five countries, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands! With over 50 training sessions and three keynote addresses, the Institute offered an opportunity for exploration of a range of hot topics as well as evaluation fundamentals. We invite you to take a look at this year's agenda and to keep an eye out for next year's Institute program when it goes online on or about April 1.

    You let us know through the AEA internal scan that our members are seeking additional and alternative training opportunities and we'll be exploring next steps to build on our success with the Institute.

    Finally, please permit us to say thank you to all of those who worked to make the Institute a success. Our co-chairs, Tom Chapel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and David Cotton at Macro International, arranged the program, advised on logistics, and were an ever-present source of assistance and guidance on site. Without Dave and Tom there would not have been an Institute. Thank you gentlemen for making this a great event and for your commitment to service. In addition, over 60 presenters shared their knowledge and expertise on everything from 'A' (advanced applications of program theory) to 'W' (what counts as credible evidence). Perhaps next year we'll make it all the way to 'Z' and we hope to see you there.

    Go to the 2008 online Institute agenda page

    Howard White Notable Figures
    Meet Howard White from 3ie

    Howard White is director of the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation - 3ie ( This organization was recently established to promote and increase the quantity and quality of impact evaluations of social and economic development programs. AEA recently interviewed Howard as part of our series of discussions with notable figures within the international evaluation community. Below are excerpts from the interview:

    "...We are still in the process of setting up 3ie. The plan is to start operations by September of this year, with the first request for proposals for impact studies being launched early next year."

    "... I am very surprised... that I continue to read comments that 3ie is just about promoting RCTs - that never was the case, and certainly will not be so under my watch, though of course there are cases when they can and should be used."

    "...My own vision - which of course 3ie shares! - is that studies and workshops are not ends in themselves. Indeed, they are rather far down the causal chain on the way to what matters, which is improving welfare outcomes... In terms of evaluation approach, I am strongly eclectic, wedded to mixed methods. What matters most to me is an issues-led design that will answer the right questions in the right way at the right time."

    "...The biggest challenge 3ie faces is to ensure close engagement with Southern partners, so we respond to a Southern agenda. This challenge for 3ie is part of a broader challenge of increasing Southern ownership of the donor-driven agenda. Whilst this is indeed a broader challenge, evaluation has an important role to play. Increasing Southern-based evaluations will increase the information flow to policy makers, as well as making those policy makers more accountable for the use of development resources.

    "This will not be easy, since the tradition is one of policy-based evidence making - "here is my policy, please provide the evidence to support it" - rather than evidence-based policy making. 3ie will need to target its activities well to ensure some early successes to help bring about the necessary culture change."

    Howard will be joining us at Evaluation 2008 in Denver to take part in two Nov. 7 events -- an expert lecture on "The New International Architecture for Impact Evaluation" at 10:55 a.m. and a panel session on "Promoting Policy Relevant Impact Evaluation for Enhance Development Effectiveness" at 1:35 p.m. See the 2008 conference schedule at for more details. To learn more about Howard and his perspectives on international impact evaluation, you can read the complete interview online. Many thanks to members of AEA's International Committee for their assistance in conducting this interview.

    Go to Full Online Interview

    AGES Event
    Arkansas affiliate hosts free workshop July 10-11

    The Arkansas Group of Evaluators (AGES) is co-sponsoring a free Summer Evaluation Workshop with the Arkansas Evaluation Center. It will be held at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff on July 10-11. The workshop is primarily designed to help build minority evaluator capacity, but is open to anyone interested in learning about evaluation throughout the United States and abroad. AGES, a local affiliate of AEA, will also hold a networking social on July 10 from 7:30 to 8:30. Dr. Abraham Wandersman's "Getting to Outcomes" empowerment evaluation work will be highlighted. Other featured speakers and workshop faciliators include:

    Plenary Luncheon Speakers

    • Senator Tracey Steele, State of Arkansas
    • Mr. Kevin Collins, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Dr. Naccaman Williams, Walton Foundation
    • Mr. Charles Gasper, Missouri Foundation for Health

    Workshop Facilitators

    • Dr. Stewart Donaldson, Dean of the School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences, Claremont Graduate University
    • Dr. Tarek Azzam, Senior Research Associate, School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences, Claremont Graduate University
    • Dr. Rosalie Torres, Torres Consulting Group
    • Dr. David Fetterman, School of Medicine, Stanford University and School of Education, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

    Workshop Topics

    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Best Practices (evaluation)
    • Foundation Pespectives about the Significance of Program Evaluation
    • Getting-to-Outcomes
    • Interviewing Skills for Evaluators
    • Introduction to Empowerment Evaluation
    • Introduction to Practical Program Evaluation
    • Introductioon to Technology and Evaluation (Geographic Information Systems and Online Surveys)
    • Politics and Taxpayer Accountability

    There will be no registration fee for the summer evaluation workshop or social networking event this year. However, an RSVP is required and participants are expected to pay for their own transportation, lodging, and food. For additional information or to RSVP, contact the AGES Chair, Ms. Linda Delaney at [email protected]. A a copy of the conference schedule can be viewed at

    The Arkansas Evaluation Center is housed at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff's School of Education. Legislation for the Center was passed by the 2006 Arkansas General Assembly and the legislation was signed by the Governor in 2007. Dr. David Fetterman ([email protected]) and Dr. Calvin Johnson are co-directors of the Center.

    Go to the AGES Web Blog

    Patton book cover Updated Bestseller
    Revised Edition Spotlights Utilization-Focused Evaluation

    Long-time member, award-winner and former AEA president Michael Quinn Patton has revised a classic text. "The pace of evaluation's globalization has accelerated and new perspectives have become influential, especially systems thinking and comprehensive approaches to evaluation influence," says Patton. "This book pulls together in one place what we have learned about increasing use (and avoiding misuse) from over more than a quarter century of research on use -- and we have learned a great deal, a great deal, indeed." Utilization- Focused Evaluation 4th Ed. is published by SAGE.

    From the Publisher's Website:
    Both practical and theoretical, the Fourth Edition of the best-selling Utilization-Focused Evaluation shows how to conduct program evaluations and why to conduct them in the manner prescribed. This entirely rewritten edition offers readers a full-fledged evaluation text from identifying primary users of an evaluation to focusing the evaluation, making methods decisions, analyzing data, and presenting findings. Each chapter reviews the relevant literature and actual case examples to illustrate major points.

    "As a career evaluation professional, it is a pleasure to see the depth and breadth of developments occurring in evaluation and to find creative ways to capture and communicate those developments to a new generation," says Patton, who is the recipient of both the Alva and Gunner Myrdal Award for Outstanding Contributions to Useful and Practical Evaluation from the Evaluation Research Society and received the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award for Lifelong Contributions to Evaluation Theory from AEA in 1997.

    Patton was on the faculty of the University of Minnesota for 18 years, including five years as Director of the Minnesota Center for Social Research, where he was awarded the Morse-Amoco Award for innovative teaching. He won a University of Minnesota storytelling competition and has authored five other Sage books: Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods, Creative Evaluation, Practical Evaluation, How to Use Qualitative Methods in Evaluation, and Family Sexual Abuse: Frontline Research and Evaluation. His creative nonfiction book, Grand Canyon Celebration: A Father-Son Journey of Discovery, was a finalist for 1999 Minnesota Book of the Year. He is also co-author of Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changed, Random House Canada, applying complexity science to social innovation.

    AEA members receive a 20 percent discount on books from SAGE publications when ordered directly from the publisher. The discount code for AEA members is SO5CAES or members can call the Customer Care department at 1-800-818-7243.

    Go to the Publisher's Website

    Eft-Bober book cover Evaluator Competencies
    Standards for the Practice of Evaluation in Organizations

    AEA members Darlene F. Russ-Eft and Marci J. Bober are among five co-authors of Evaluator Competencies: Standards for the Practice of Evaluation in Organizations. Published by Jossey- Bass Publishing, the book focuses on the challenges and obstacles of conducting evaluations within dynamic, changing organizations, and provides methods and strategies for putting these competencies to use.

    From the publisher's website:
    This book is based on research conducted by the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction and identifies the competencies needed by those undertaking evaluation efforts in organizational settings.

    "The most rewarding aspect of the project involved the opportunity to work with colleagues from several different countries and cultures," says Russ-Eft. "The diverse experiences and engaging ideas helped me (and others on the team and the ibstpi board) appreciate the complexity of the work of an evaluator."

    Bober adds that the research involved evaluators on all continents except for Antarctica. "Thus, the identification and subsequent validation of the competencies attempts to suggest what is common throughout the world."

    Darlene F. Russ-Eft, Ph.D., is a professor in and chair of the Department of Adult Education and Higher Education Leadership within the College of Education at Oregon State University. Marcie J. Bober, Ph.D., is professor in and chair of the Department of Educational Technology at San Diego State University.

    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 promotional code "AEAF8" online or by phone (1-800-225-5945).

    Go to the Publisher's Website

    Get Involved
    Get the most out of your membership

    As fall approaches, we draw nearer to AEA's annual Evaluation conference and the fall academic year. As always, there are many ways right now to participate in the life of the association. Please click through to the appropriate item below to find out more.

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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.

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