Newsletter: December 2008 Vol 8, Issue 12

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Dear AEA Colleagues,
 
The Annual Conference in Denver was an event to remember. Over 2500 of us came together to learn, network, and re-invigorate and our host city opened wide its arms. I am pleased to be able to share with you via this newsletter access to the plenary recordings, an update on our sock and change collection program, and a profile of this year's Lazarsfeld Award - plus book and event announcements, and a profile of the work of the Extension Education Evaluation Topical Interest Group.
 
I also wanted to give you an update on our Community Technology Project. We are developing an extensive new section of the AEA website focusing on peer-to-peer connecting and exchange. It will have a library for sharing evaluation resources, an extensive directory with web 2.0 capabilities, and discussion lists and micro-sites for our many subgroups - from TIGs to committees to task forces to informal working groups. Our goal was to roll out the first module immediately following the conference and I know that I had spoken to many groups about this exciting resource. It now looks like our first module, the member resource library, will roll out in early 2009. We are finalizing integration with our existing member database and testing the many facets of this new service. I apologize for the delay - but also can't tell you how excited I am with each new piece that I have had the opportunity to trial. I very much look forward to working with you all to build AEA's online community in 2009.
 
Peace and joy to you and yours,
 
Susan
 
Susan Kistler
Executive Director, American Evaluation Association
In This Issue
2008 Plenaries Online
Cousins Receives Lazarsfeld Award
Socks, Parking Meters and Change
Interview with Frans Leeuw, EES
Extension Education Evaluation TIG
SEA Hosts 21st Annual Conference
Evaluation Institute June 14-17
Book: Focus Groups
Book: Emergent Methods
Book: Measuring Change in Psychotherapy
Quick Links
2008 Plenaries Online

Recordings from the three plenary sessions offered at Evaluation 2008 are now available online! In case you missed them at the conference, AEA has recorded each plenary session and its accompanying slides for viewing on your computer or mobile device that will run Windows Media, Quicktime, or MPEG-4 files. The 2008 plenaries were:

  • Plenary 1: Lois-Ellin Datta, Golden is the Sand: Memory and Hope in Policy, Theory, and Practice
  • Plenary 2: William Trochim, AEA Presidential Address, Evaluation Policy and Evaluation Practice 
  • Plenary 3: Elliot Stern, Through a Glass Darkly: Reflections on a European Evaluation Policy and Practice  

Go to the Evaluation 2008 Plenary webpage

J. Bradley Cousins Recipient of  AEA's Lazarsfeld Award
 
05BannerFThe American Evaluation Association in November recognized five individuals or groups who have contributed greatly to the field evaluation. The awards, presented at the association's annual conference in Denver, this year recognized two newcomers, a veteran, a scholar and a collective group of 16 authors whose ground-breaking work is used to more effectively evaluate community-based prevention programs worldwide. We will profile each of the winners in upcoming issues of this newsletter.
 
J. Bradley Cousins, Professor of Educational Administration at the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa, is the recipient of the 2008 Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award, presented to an individual whose written work on evaluation theory has led to fruitful debates on the assumptions, goals, and practices of evaluation. Long-time editor of the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, Cousins is recognized among his peers as a brilliant scholar who can digest a wealth of literature, research findings and empirical evidence to both effectively answer long-standing questions regarding evaluation and, in turn, raise new ones. 
 
Says nominator Michael Quinn Patton: "Cousins looks at theory, research and practice (teaching, doing) as being highly interconnected, integrated and interdependent." He has been conducting and publishing research since the mid-1980s. Cousins is co-author of Participatory Evaluation in Education: Studies in Evaluation Use and Organization Learning and is currently finishing Organizational Capacity to Do and Use Evaluation and The Sage International Handbook on Educational Evaluation (co-edited with Katherine Ryan). "What also characterizes his research is his ability to review and summarize existing literature, then build conceptual frameworks that help others make sense of our practice," says Jean King. "I always look forward to reading Brad's newest article because I know it will help clarify my own thinking."
 
Cousins is a 1977 graduate of Trent University, earned his Master's in Experimental Psychology from Lakehead University and his Ph.D. in Educational Measurement and Evaluation from the University of Toronto.
 
"I am extremely proud to be the 2008 recipient of the Lazarsfeld award for theory in evaluation," says Cousins. "This tremendous honor signifies to me the value of empirical, particularly collaborative, research on evaluation and the important contribution it can make."
Socks, Parking Meters, and Spare Change
 
05BannerFWhat would happen if 2,000 people didn't spend their pocket change for a week? It's an intriguing question and, as befits an organization made up of inquiring minds, AEA set out to find the answer during Evaluation 2008.

Earlier this year, AEA teamed up with Mayor John Hickenlooper to lend support to his innovative "Denver's Road Home" project. Under this initiative, the city has placed specially marked parking meters around town where people can donate spare change, with their donations helping to fund programs that implement a 10-year plan to end homelessness in the city.
 
AEA invited members to bring pocket change to promote social change while attending our annual conference in Denver. And to make it easy for members to participate, we had one of the meters placed outside conference rooms at the Hyatt Regency. By week's end, AEA members had generously donated more than $600 as well as 300 pairs of socks for distribution to the Denver Rescue Mission and the area's homeless residents (think "winter in the Rockies").
 
The response from AEA participants and supporters was both amazing and inspiring. Said one, after visiting the Denver Rescue Mission as part of the Thursday Evening Nights Out: "I was so moved by the night out tour of homeless areas and serving dinner that we are instituting that and a couple of similar ideas for our statewide conference next year. I am starting to work with local partners on such nights out already." - Kristin Huff, Indiana Youth Institute

More information on the "Denver's Road Home" program is available online at http://www.denversroadhome.org/. Thanks again for your fabulous support! We look forward to building upon this sucess at Evaluation 2009 in Orlando, Florida. We'll keep you posted! 
Interview with Frans Leeuw, European Evaluation Society
Thanks to members of AEA's International Committee for their help in arranging our interviews with evaluators from around the world.
 
LeeuwFrans L. Leeuw proves that you don't have to start out thinking small. Nearly 20 years ago, he and three other colleagues established the European Evaluation Society and he served as its President. In 2002, he helped establish the Dutch Evaluation Society and became its first president. "We are so oriented towards Europe over here," he says. "We forgot to establish a Dutch society!" Leeuw also serves as General Director of the Dutch Judiciary Research Statistics and Information Center (WWW.wodc.nl), and as Distinguished Professor at Maastricht University, with a chair in law, policy and social science research. In a recent interview, Leeuw said he'd witnessed unimaginable growth in the evaluation field over the last 30 years, but offered a word of caution.
 
"We have to be worried that more is not always better. If evaluations expand and expand, in terms that they are going to be management support system stuff, we should closely monitor that and be on the alert, instead of saying: 'Look how it grows!' We as evaluators should know better than anyone else that institutions create their own disasters. That can also be the case with ECB (evaluation capacity building) or any other type of performance monitoring or auditing, or any of the things we design. Sometimes we can create perverse incentives."
 
Leeuw is very much interested in what he calls "wiki-nomization" is doing to evaluation work.
 
"I see with great speed bottom-up 'evaluative' information from society going directly to big-enchilada decision makers, while we are still worrying about the color of our report cover. I see inspectorates and regulators in the Netherlands establishing direct links with their inspectees through web 2.0. Grass roots evaluations by using the web and all that is to come in that field - including open source analysis programs for data - is coming, and stakeholder evaluations will probably become a little dinosaur within a few decades. Big E (evaluation)' in the E-(electronic) world, I think, is not the best collaborative arrangement."
 
Leeuw and Belgian colleague Jos Vaessen are finishing work on a book that warns of a growing gap between evaluation as a practice and the growth and accumulation of knowledge in disciplines such as sociology, psychology or economics.
 
"Theory-driven evaluators most of the time believe that only evaluators produce theories - intervention, program or policy theories. We should be more knowledgeable about the cumulation of knowledge in core disciplines, like (cognitive) psychology, economics and sociology because theories developed and tested there point to factors or variables which evaluators may otherwise overlook."
 
Leeuw encourages colleagues to recommit themselves to "influential evaluations."
 
"A lot of studies that I see are a bit 'more of the same.' I was impressed by Gary Henry's influential evaluations article and by a similar study by the World Bank that listed some 10 influential evaluations. Now that evaluation is a big business, the level of fascination - the level of intellectual stress, this wonderful stuff that makes your heart beat faster - that is too often gone. With 'influential evaluation' that is definitely not the case." 
  
Extension Education Evaluation TIG & Special Issue of NDE
Distance education is the focus of a new special issue of New Directions for Evaluation, Volume 120 Winter 2008, and reflects the work of the Extension Education Evaluation topical interest group.  
 
Background of the TIG
The EEE TIG was started informally in 1981 by a group of Extension evaluators and today numbers close to 200 members. Cooperative Extension, the outreach education arm of the land grant universities in each state, provides research-based educational programming to the public. In addition to operating at 1862-chartered universities, Extension also includes 1890 (historically black) and 1994 (tribal) institutions. Extension also operates in American Samoa, Guam, Federated States of Micronesia, Northern Mariana and the Virgin Islands. Today, EEE-TIG's 187 members are administrators, teachers, evaluators, and professional development specialists who specialize in the evaluation of educational outreach programs. Many members are faculty at Land Grant Universities, though anyone interested in the evaluation of non-formal educational programs is encouraged to join.
 
Current Operations
The EEE TIG operates through a board of directors, seven of whom are elected and three of whom are appointed. An elected program chair, chair, and awards chair facilitate communication and information. Four region-specific elected representatives represent the regions of the Cooperative Extension System in the United States - Northeast, Southern, North Central and Western. The appointed members are membership chair, secretary, and representative from Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, an important federal partner for state Extension systems. The TIG uses a formal, blinded peer review process for the proposals it receives for each AEA conference, has had a formal web site since 2004 and plans to transition to AEA's new web site framework in 2009.
 
Future goals of the TIG
In 2009, the EEE TIG will continue to focus on these goals:
  • Provide exploration, development, and benchmarking of evaluation best practices throughout the Cooperative Extension System
  • Provide the premiere national networking experience for Cooperative Extension program evaluators
  • Build and maintain program evaluation partnerships with Cooperative Extension leaders across the nation
  • Provide the premiere professional development opportunity for Cooperative Extension program evaluators
  • Celebrate evaluation related accomplishments of Cooperative Extension program evaluators and supporters

For more information, contact EEE Program Chair, Nancy Franz, Ph.D., Professor/Extension Specialist Program Development, Virginia Cooperative Extension, 112 Hutcheson Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061 at 540-231-1634 or email her at [email protected].

SEA Hosts  Annual Conference in February 2009 in Florida
The Southeast Evaluation Association will be hosting its 21st annual conference Monday, February 23-Tuesday, February 24 in Tallahassee, Florida. The conference theme is The Wolf is at the Door: Adding Value in Lean Times. The keynote speaker will be Jonathan Walters. A senior correspondent for Governing Magazine, Walters has covered state and local public policy for more than two decades for publications ranging from The Washington Post to USA Today. For the past 15 years, Walters has been focusing on public sector management and administration with an emphasis on innovation, change management, and results-based governance. He is author of Measuring Up: Governing's Guide to Performance Measurement for Geniuses (and Other Public Managers), and Measuring Up 2.0:  Governing's New and Improved Guide to Performance Measurement for Geniuses (and Other Public Managers).
 
Conference sessions will cover evaluation topics related to public administration and management, health and human services, K-12 education, higher education, criminal justice and juvenile justice, and non-profit foundations. It will be held at the Tallahassee Community College's Center for Economic and Workforce Development. 
 
Attendees may stay at the Residence Inn Tallahassee Universities at the Capitol, where rooms have been reserved at a rate of $139 a night/$99 for government employees. Situated downtown near the capitol complex with Florida State University and Florida A&M University a few blocks away, the Residence Inn features spacious accommodations, a complimentary area shuttle service and breakfast buffet.

Early registration is $100 for SEA members, $130 for non-members and $25 for students. After February 6, rates are $125 for SEA members, $155 for non-members and $30 for students. A pre-conference session is featured on Monday from 8:30-11:30 a.m., available at $50 for SEA members and $80 for non members. Registration fees include meals and snacks. To register, go to the SEA website. You may use PayPal to pay registration fees. For additional information, please contact [email protected].
Save the Date: AEA's 2009 Summer Institute June 15-17  
Mark your calendars now for AEA/CDC 2009 Summer Evaluation Institute to be held Monday, June 15 through Wednesday, June 17 with pre-conference workshops on Sunday, June 14.
 
We are finalizing the lineup for the 2009 AEA/CDC Summer Evaluation Institute. Key coordinates:
 
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
What: More than 50 evaluation-focused breakout and training sessions
Facilitators: Outstanding speakers from around the country
Audience: Evaluators and students seeking training, inspiration, and networking 

2008's Institute saw over 500 attendees come together for quality training and the opportunity to expand their professional and personal networks. Attendees from across the country - and even a few from around the globe - came to Atlanta to discuss the world of evaluation, to learn in a collaborative and supportive environment, and to leave ready to improve their practice.
 
This year will include fundamental offerings such as survey development and qualitative analysis, more advanced topics such as applications of evaluation theory, and keynote addresses that delve into evaluation for all levels of learning.
 
Registration - and the full program - will go online in March.

We'll keep you updated via this newsletter and send out a free-standing announcement upon registration opening. 
Focus Groups: A Practical Guide for Applied Research
FGAEA members Richard A. Krueger and Mary Anne Casey have co-authored the fourth edition of the bestselling Focus Groups: A Practical Guide for Applied Research. In the book, published by SAGE,the authors call attention to recent trends, highlight historic practice and focus attention on critical challenges such as developing quality questions, effective recruiting, and efficient analysis.
 
From the Publisher:
"Authors Richard A. Krueger & Mary Anne Casey describe how one can set up and conduct quality and effective focus group interviews. The process depicted is unbiased, non-judgmental and is respectful of all views. It is a deliberate and systematic way of listening that is helpful to public and private organizations as they listen to stakeholders, customers, and employees. This book cuts through the theory and gives hand-on advice to those who are seeking to actually conduct a focus group. It is most helpful for conducting focus groups for research or evaluation with public, non-profit, educational, health, human service, and religious organizations."

From Richard Krueger and Mary Anne Casey:
"In all of our writing, we stress practicality and offer suggestions that are not only theoretically sound, but also efficient and useful. We take pride in that we not only write about focus group interviewing, but we actually do them - and we do a lot of them. In addition we are fortunate to have many colleagues around the world who are skillful practitioners of focus group interviewing and they regularly share their best practices and tips with us. We are honored to pass them along to our readers."

About the Authors:
Krueger, a past president of AEA, has written extensively about focus group interviewing including six books and numerous chapters in edited books. He is a member of the graduate faculty at the University of Minnesota and teaches courses in program evaluation and research methods. Casey is a consultant and has worked with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development and the University of Minnesota. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Over the past ten years she has conducted hundreds of focus groups and taught research skills to thousands of individuals.
 
AEA members receive a 20 percent discount on books from SAGE 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.
 
The Handbook of Emergent Methods

LeavyHEM2Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber and AEA member Patricia Leavy teamed up to co-edit Handbook of Emergent Methods. The book, published by Guilford Press, assembles contributions from emergent and established methodological scholars about innovative evaluation methods.
 
From the Publisher:
"Social researchers increasingly find themselves looking beyond conventional methods to address complex research questions. The Handbook of Emergent Methods is the first book to comprehensively examine emergent qualitative and quantitative theories and methods across the social and behavioral sciences. Providing scholars and students with a way to retool their research choices, the volume presents cutting-edge approaches to data collection, analysis, and representation. Leading researchers describe alternative uses of traditional quantitative and qualitative tools; innovative hybrid or mixed methods; and new techniques facilitated by technological advances. Consistently formatted chapters explore the strengths and limitations of each method for studying different types of research questions and offer practical, in-depth examples."
 
From Patricia Leavy:
"Our goal in compiling the Handbook of Emergent Methods was to provide a retrospective and prospective review of innovative methods practices - from new takes on standard methods like interviewing and ethnography, to entirely new methods practices. With the major advancements in theoretical work, and the changing character of a globalizing world, we thought it was time to review how research methods practices are catching up to other major shifts within and beyond the academy."
 
About the Authors:
Hesse-Biber is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. She is founder and director of The National Association for Women in Catholic Higher Education and is co-developer of HyperRESEARCH,  a computer software program for qualitative data analysis. Leavy is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Stonehill College. She specializes in qualitative methodology, collective memory, popular culture and gender.

AEA members receive a 20 percent discount on books from Guilford when ordered directly from the publisher. To apply the member discount, use "AEA" online at www.guilford.com or call 1-800-365-7006 or 1-212-966-6708.

Go to the Publisher's Website
Measuring Change in Counseling and Psychotherapy
MeierMeasuring Change in Counseling and Psychotherapy is a new book by AEA member Scott T. Meier. Published by Guilford Press, Meier's book offers a wide-ranging examination of issues related to psychological testing.
 
From the Publisher:
"This book provides researchers, clinicians, and students with a useful overview of the key issues involved in measuring client change within clinical practice. It reviews the history, conceptual foundations, and current status of trait- and state-based assessment models and approaches, exploring their strengths and limitations for measuring change across therapy sessions. Particular attention is given to the critical challenges of interpreting and using measurement and assessment data that can enable the provision of better clinical care and treatment evaluation. A series of exercises guides the reader to gather information about particular tests and evaluate their suitability for intended testing purposes."
 
From Scott Meier:
"The book aims to focus more attention on problems related to what Lipsey and others have called 'design sensitivity.' This refers to creating an applied or basic research design that is sensitive enough to detect any effects produced by a psychosocial intervention (including those employed in most program evaluations). The book traces the historical development of educational and psychological testing and illustrates how almost all current tests have been constructed on a paradigm that focuses on stable traits. In evaluation and other settings, however, we are more interested in measuring states that are responsive to treatments and interventions."
 
About the Author:
Meier is Professor and Chair of the Department of Counseling/School Psychology at the University at Buffalo.
  
AEA members receive a 20 percent discount on books from Guilford when ordered directly from the publisher. To apply the member discount, use "AEA" online at www.guilford.com or call 1-800-365-7006 or 1-212-966-6708.
About Us
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