Newsletter: March 2010 Vol 10, Issue 3

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Deadlines Nearing - Vital Input Needed 
DLeslie Cooksyear AEA Colleagues,
 

Thanks to everyone who submitted proposals for November's Evaluation 2010 conference. I am excited by the enthusiasm I've heard for the theme of Evaluation Quality and I look forward to seeing the different ways of thinking about evaluation quality in the various proposals. Remember that submissions for the Type I student travel awards have a deadline of Thursday, April 15. I hope to see some creative applications!

 

Last month, I mentioned the Board's continued work via phone following our cancelled winter meeting. During our most recent call, we approved bylaws revisions. These have just been sent to you for comment. The bylaws are the legal document for the organization, so your input is important. Because revisions to the bylaws were made in the context of our new Governance Policies, I suggest you look at the two documents together. You can view the bylaws revisions by logging onto the AEA website where you'll see prompts from the home page. A copy was also sent to you by email. Share your feedback on this fundamental document by Friday, April 16.

 

The Board has recently approved two new TIGS - one on Internal Evaluation and another on Mixed Methods for Evaluation. In the process, we realized that AEA lacks clear criteria for approving or sunsetting TIGs. The Board has asked the Priority Area Team for Knowledge and Professional Support to consider policy recommendations to guide future decisions about TIGs. In the meantime, we have put a temporary hold on approving new TIGs. This moratorium is scheduled to last until December 31, 2010 or until we have policies in place, whichever happens first.

 

The final thing that I want to call your attention to is AEA's 2010 Call for Nominations for Awards, due Friday, June 4. We have so many talented and thoughtful people in our profession who have contributed in a wide range of ways. Please take some time to review the awards and consider nominating someone worthy of this distinction.

 

It is such an honor to be president of our diverse and engaged community. Thank you!

 
Leslie
Leslie Cooksy
2010 AEA President
In This Issue
Policy Watch with George Grob
Hendricks Joins GAO Council
Meet David Fetterman
New Mixed Methods TIG
New Internal Evaluation TIG
TechTalk with LaMarcus Bolton
Book: Qualitative Research
CES Conference May 2-5
New Volunteer Opportunities
eLibrary Update
New Jobs Postings
Get Involved
About Us
Quick Links
Policy Watch - New Teams Forming Up: Your Help Needed 
From George Grob, Consultant to the Evaluation Policy Task Force
 
Grob

We need your help. We've been keeping a close eye out for Presidential appointees and other senior officials with significant roles in the field of evaluation. A few names have popped up, but typically these appointments don't draw much attention until well into the first year or so of new Presidential administrations. Most of their early attention goes to filling top posts such as Cabinet members and heads of Federal departments and agencies. They then have a hand in selecting other officials, including those in the field of evaluation. Still more will follow in the third tier of appointments, influenced by those in the first and second tiers. Nevertheless, these are very senior and important appointees who will likely have significant influence not only on evaluation but on public policy more generally.

 

As you know, our AEA Presidents wrote to Peter Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) within days of his arrival, sending him the Evaluation Roadmap. And, we have been in touch with other senior officials including Shelley Metzenbaum, Associate Director of OMB for Performance and Personnel Management. It will be equally important for us to contact senior evaluation officials in all Federal agencies as they officially arrive for duty.

 

That's where you come in. I am writing to invite those of you in touch with Federal agencies to let us know when you become aware of such appointments. It would be useful to have contact information, a note regarding their role in terms of evaluation, and - if easily available - any background information from official announcements or common public sources. We are not asking for detailed background checks or for opinions about the potential ramifications of such appointments. Nor are we interested in rumors that someone is being considered for appointment. We do want to know about those who are officially appointed and have arrived for duty.

 

Once we become aware of such appointments, we will follow up to welcome them aboard and send them information about AEA. You can email me with that information at [email protected]. Thank you for your help.

 
AEA Board Member Michael Hendricks Joins GAO Advisory Council
05BannerFMichael Hendricks, now finishing his third year on AEA's Board of Directors, has been selected by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to join the Comptroller General's Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards. While Mike does not represent AEA on the GAO council, Mike's selection will enable him to serve as a bridge between the two organizations as well as between the two fields of program evaluation and performance auditing - an interest sparked early in his career and apparent in a 1990 volume of New Directions for Program Evaluation entitled Inspectors General: A New Force in Evaluation in which he served as an editor.
 

"I've never lost that interest," says Hendricks, "and it's interesting to see the similarities and differences between evaluation and performance auditing -- which is much more similar to evaluation than most evaluators realize -- regarding such issues as studying the ethics of operations, making predictions for the future, the use of standards and criteria, the concept of significance, how much effort is devoted to the design phase, and many other points of comparison. In fact, 30% of the GAO's famous Yellow Book is devoted to performance auditing."

Members of the Comptroller General's Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards provide continuing advice and guidance to the GAO. This is an especially important year, since the Yellow Book is being revised, and Mike and Rakesh Mohan, another AEA Board member who also serves on the Advisory Council, can lend an evaluation perspective to the discussions. Appointments to the Council are for four years.

Hendricks has more than 30 years experience as a practicing evaluator and 25 years as a successful independent consultant serving a wide variety of clients including non-profits, foundations, state and local governments, the U.S. government and international development agencies. He has a Ph.D. in Methodology and Program Evaluation from Northwestern University. He is also a member of the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS) and the Oregon Program Evaluators Network.

 

The Comptroller General first issued standards for government auditing in 1972; and major revisions were issued in 1981, 1988, 1994, 2003, and 2007. These standards are widely used in reviews of federal, state, and local government programs, as well as in reviews of entities receiving federal assistance.  They have also been adopted by numerous countries.

 

"In short, I think performance auditing and program evaluation have a great deal to learn from each other, and I've always wanted to help with that learning. Given that the GAO's Yellow Book is the standard for performance auditing, serving on this Advisory Council is  both an honor and a golden opportunity for someone like me."

Mike and Rakesh will present a special session at Evaluation 2010 that will orient fellow evaluators to the world of performance auditing, how the two overlap, and this year's changes to the Yellow Book.

Congrats Mike! We look forward to learning more.

Meet David Fetterman -  Author, Professor, Evaluator   
AEA's 5,700 members worldwide represent a range of backgrounds, specialties and interest areas. Join us as we profile a different member each month via our Questions and Answer column. This month's profile spotlights a long-time member, mentor and friend.
 

fettermanName, Affiliation: David Fetterman, President and CEO of Fetterman & Associates; professor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Director of the Arkansas Evaluation Center

Degrees: A Ph.D. and two master's (Stanford University)

Years in the Evaluation Field: More than 30

Joined AEA: At its inception

Leadership in AEA: David has served as president of AEA, chair of the Qualitative Methods TIG, and is currently co-chair of the Collaborative, Participatory, and Empowerment Evaluation TIG. He has served on the board in various capacities; and he is one of two individuals in the field to have been awarded both the AEA Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Practice Award and the AEA Paul F. Lazarsfeld Evaluation Theory Award. 

 

Why do you belong to AEA?

"I have met more colleagues from more walks of life than any other professional association I belong too, ranging from foundations to government and technology to health care. It is like a family."

 

Why do you choose to work in the field of evaluation?

"Like most people - to make a difference - to help people make informed decisions about their lives and their programs (with an eye toward the larger social good)."

 

What's the most memorable or meaningful evaluation that you have been a part of - and why?

"I have two actually. The President of Stanford University asked me to evaluate Stanford's teacher education program - in essence my own colleagues. Need I say more? Jody Fitzpatrick conducted a wonderful interview about that project that is in her new book Evaluation in Action: Interviews With Expert Evaluators (Fitzpatrick, Christie, and Mark, 2008). It was memorable in part because it was a case in which I did not select empowerment evaluation as the approach (which surprised and impressed a number of colleagues). It just goes to show that what you don't do is as important as what you do do sometimes. Secondly, a $15 million Hewlett-Packard Digital Village Empowerment Evaluation. We used empowerment evaluation in this effort and the outcomes associated with 18 Native American tribes called the Tribal Digital Village were spectacular and recognized by the head of the Federal Communications Commission."

 

What advice would you give to those new to the field?

"Find a mentor, ask questions, but don't be hypercritical, be honest and rigorous, care about the people you are working with (in the field and in your office), and keep up with technology. The rest is commentary."

 

Fetterman is the author of over 10 books including: Empowerment Evaluation Principles in Practice, Foundations of Empowerment Evaluation, and Empowerment Evaluation: Knowledge and Tools for Self-assessment and Accountability. His latest book is the 3rd edition of his very popular Ethnography: Step by Step (SAGE).

AEA Welcomes Mixed Methods in Evaluation Topical Interest Group 

AEA welcomes its newest topical interest group - the Mixed Methods in Evaluation (MME) TIG.

The MME TIG becomes AEA's 45th and will examine the use of mixed methods in evaluation through the reflective analysis of the philosophy, theory, and methodology that is developing in the field of mixed methods. AEA members will be encouraged to submit both theoretical and empirical papers on the topic of mixed methods. Mixed methods is viewed as the combination of more than one methodological standpoint in the same study. The mixing can occur at the level of inquiry purpose, philosophical assumptions, methodological design, and/or specific data gathering technique. Evaluators have commonly used a mix of methods in their work, however, there has not been a concentrated opportunity to examine what that means theoretically and practically for the evaluation field. Hence, this TIG would contribute to the improvement of evaluation practices, method and use because it will focus on the contributions that a better understanding of mixed methods has to offer.
 

Increasing interest in mixed methods is evidenced in the establishment of a new international journal (Journal of Mixed Methods Research), the publication of the second edition of the Handbook of Mixed Methods Research (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2010), and an annual international conference on mixed methods.  Several textbooks about mixed methods have been recently published; two of the authors of these texts are familiar names for AEA members:  Jennifer Greene's  Mixed Methods in Social Inquiry (2007) and Donna Mertens' Transformative Research and Evaluation (2009) and Research and Evaluation in Education and Psychology: Integrating Diversity with Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods (2010).

"The use of mixed methods has been present in the research and evaluation communities in many shapes and forms for many years, yet there is much that has not yet been systematically examined in terms of what it means to mix methods at the philosophical, theoretical, and practical levels," says TIG organizer Donna Mertens. "Given this increasing interest in mixed methods, we felt the time was right to bring an opportunity to AEA members to contribute to the discussion of emerging mixed methods issues."

To learn more, you may contact TIG organizers Donna Mertens or Mika Yamashita at [email protected] or [email protected].

You may also sign up online at www.eval.org.

AEA Welcomes the Internal Evaluation Topical Interest Group 

AEA would like to welcome the Internal Evaluation Topical Interest Group.

Recent discussions on the EvalTalk listserv and among colleagues nationwide indicate distinct nuances specific to internal evaluation, and formation of the TIG follows heightened interest and activity in the arena of internal evaluation, as well as an increasing number of related presentations at AEA's annual conference.

"Two goals that seemed to spark the most interest among attendees at last year's special round table discussion were community building and growing a theoretical framework for internal evaluation," say co-chairs of the Internal Evaluation TIG, Boris Volkov and Wendy DuBow. Issues they expect the TIG will focus on include culture of evaluation, sustainability, capacity building, micro-organizational issues, ethical issues, role conflicts, advantages and disadvantages of internal evaluation, and promoting unbiased results.

 

The Internal Evaluation TIG is AEA's 44th topical interest group. The purpose of the Internal Evaluation TIG is to provide a forum for networking, community building, learning, and professional development for those interested in internal evaluation in a wide variety of settings - organizations and partnerships, nonprofits and for-profits, governmental agencies and NGO, national and international milieus.

The Internal Evaluation TIG expects to:

  • Develop and sponsor AEA conference sessions related to internal evaluation
  • Promote effective practices of internal evaluation in organizations
  • Promote sharing of professional information related to internal evaluation
  • Contribute to the development of theoretical frameworks and successful practices for internal evaluation.

For more information, contact Boris or Wendy at [email protected] or [email protected]. You may sign up for the Internal Evaluation TIG membership online at www.eval.org. Sign in using your AEA username and password. You can then update your member profile to include the IE TIG as one of your five TIG memberships.

 
Your username is:
Your password is: 
 
TechTalk - Online Forums Make Finding, Following & Contributing Info Easier  
From LaMarcus Bolton, AEA Technology Director
 
Bolton

Invoking a little bit of my Industrial-Organizational (I/O) Psychology background, I know that our members are our greatest knowledge resource. But did you know that, at practically any given moment, you have access to hundreds of like-minded evaluators who can answer questions and contribute to discussions? No, I am not referring to our popular EvalTalk listserv (that's for another column), but rather our online forums!

 

For those of you who may not be familiar, online forums are the technological extension of traditional bulletin boards. In other words, users can self-contribute new topical "threads" (i.e., posts) and online forum applications will efficiently manage the organization of this information. This makes finding, following, and/or contributing to discussions much more intuitive.

 

The good news is that AEA is leveraging forum technology for our members. To access AEA's forums, from the AEA homepage, navigate to the "Community" dropdown of the navigation bar and click on "Groups/Forums Subscriptions." Here, you are presented with all of our forums, including our TIG-specific forums and general association forums (including my personal favorite - the technology forum). To view posts, click on a forum of interest and you'll be presented with a chronological ordering of the most recent updates. Conversely, if you wanted to focus on one threaded conversation, you can do so by clicking the "View Thread" link within the left-pane of a post. If you wanted to contribute to a discussion, you could click the "Reply to eGroup" link within the left pane of a post (preferred) or reply privately to the poster by clicking the "Reply to Sender" link. Posting a message is as easy as clicking the "Post Message" link within the left-pane, typing your message, and hitting the "Send" button in the lower-right corner. Lastly, to save time checking for forum updates, you can opt to automatically receive email notifications for new posts to your forums of choice. Just click the "My Subscriptions" button within the left navigation pane and you'll be presented with a series of subscription options.

 

I encourage you to take full advantage of AEA's forums. If you are a new member, be sure to check out our New Member Forum; to follow our Thought Leader Series, please peruse our President's Forum; to discuss general technology or technology presented, please see our Technology and Coffee Break Webinars forums, respectively; and to follow issues with your favorite TIGs, please subscribe accordingly. Lastly, if you've never used the forums, please be sure to update your profile. Adding a bio and photo helps personalize online interactions.  If you have any issues or want to offer suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected]. Happy posting!

Qualitative Research: Studying How Things Work 

Stake-bookAEA member Robert E. Stake is author of newly published Qualitative Research: Studying How Things Work, by Guilford Press.

From the Publisher's Site:

"This book provides invaluable guidance for thinking through and planning a qualitative study. Rather than offering recipes for specific techniques, master storyteller Robert Stake stimulates readers to discover "how things work" in organizations, programs, communities, and other systems. Topics range from identifying a research question to selecting methods, gathering data, interpreting and analyzing the results, and producing a well-thought-through written report. In-depth examples from actual studies emphasize the role of the researcher as instrument and interpreter, while boxed vignettes and learning projects encourage self-reflection and critical thinking. Other useful pedagogical features include quick-reference tables and charts, sample project management forms, and an end-of-book glossary. After reading this book, doctoral students and novice qualitative researchers will be able to plan a study from beginning to end."

 

From the Author:

"Qualitative Research: Studying How Things Work is a contemplative book. While trying to be informative, pleasurable, and personal, the book is about the choices that researchers consciously and unconsciously make," says Stake, "and about how understanding the social and professional worlds around us comes from paying attention to what people are doing and what they are saying. I put "How Things Work" in the title, not intending to lead the reader to how things ought to work, nor to what factors cause them to work as they do, but intending to help examine how things are working. Most of the things I had in mind were small things, small but not simple, like classrooms and offices and committees. But also, gerundial things: like nursing and mainstreaming and fund-raising, each in particular situations. Usually I had the book dig into how something particular is working somewhere, much more often than into how things work in general."

 

About the Author:

Robert E. Stake is Director of the Center for Instructional Research and Curriculum Evaluation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is one of several educational researchers who created theory and practice for educational program evaluation in the 1960s. His responsive evaluation approach emphasizes the study of classroom experience, personal interaction, and institutional processes and contexts, often in the form of case studies. Among the evaluative studies he has directed are studies in science and arts education; model programs; and conventional teaching, including higher education, special education and, with Bernadine Evans Stake, gender equity. He is a recipient of AEA's Lazarsfeld Award as well as the Presidential Citation from the American Educational Research Association. He holds honorary doctorates from the University of Uppsala, Sweden, and the University of Valladolid, Spain. For many years, he has been a prominent voice in a transatlantic "invisible college" of like-minded evaluators questioning contexts and conventions for educational evaluation and infusing evaluation with fairness and a valuing of experience.

 
AEA members receive 20% off the retail price of all books and journals ordered directly from Guilford Press as part of AEA's Publishing Partners program. To receive your 20% discount, use the promotional code "AEA" online or call 1-800-365-7006.
                

Go to the Publisher's Site

CES Conference May 2-5 in Victoria
The Canadian Evaluation Society will host its 31st Annual Conference May 2-5 at the Fairmont Empress Hotel and Victoria Conference Centre. This year's theme is Going Green, Gold and Global: New Horizons for Evaluation. Conference themes can be summarized as:
  • Going Green - evaluation in the context of managing positive environmental change.
  • Going Gold - evaluation of the impacts and effects of programs associated with the 2010 Winter Olympics and striving for excellence in evaluation.
  • Going Global - evaluation of programs and policies in the context of BC's international connections.
  • New Horizons For Evaluation - exploration of emerging evaluation issues in both theory and practice, particularly in the three main themes.

Keynote speakers will include Simon Jackson, one of Time Magazine's 60 Heroes of the Planet, and Jennifer Walinga, a double Olympic gold medalist. They will present The Power of One and Using Olympic Principles for Success. A special Los Tres Amigos panel will discuss Global Excellence in Monitoring and Evaluation that includes Robert Lahey, John Pfeiffer and Agustin Caso, representing Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, respectively.

 
Evaluation professionals from governments, post-secondary institutions, private practice, non-profits, and the voluntary sector will come together to discuss, debate and learn from each other. CES invites non-members and evaluators from outside Canada to share information as well as their experiences on evaluation initiatives.
More information about registration and conference details may be found online.


Go to the CES Conference Website
Many Ways to Contribute to AEA - As Session Chairs, Web Moderators, etc.
Looking for ways to get involved in the life of the association? AEA's new Member Involvement Initiative (MII) has the following updates related to new volunteer opportunities within AEA:
 

Evaluation 2010 Multipaper Session Chairs: We are seeking session chairs for multipaper sessions at Evaluation 2010 in San Antonio this November. In order to volunteer, you need only have an interest in evaluation, be comfortable speaking in public, be attending the conference, and be able to coordinate the session as described in our guidelines for session chairs. If you already indicated your interest in serving as a session chair when submitting a conference proposal, you need not re-submit, but if you have not yet done so and would like to chair, please send an email to Heidi in the AEA office at [email protected]. In that email, indicate your willingness to chair and identify 1-3 TIGs that reflect your interests (See TIG listing here). Deadline: Thursday, April 15

Webinar Moderators: We're seeking a small cohort of members who are interested in learning how to moderate future webinars. To serve as a moderator, you must (a) be articulate and comfortable communicating orally; (b) be able to dial in, from a quiet location, via a landline phone to the webinars (VOIP, Cell, and computer-assisted options do not allow for sufficient sound quality); (c) own a set of headphones with microphone that work with your landline phone; and (d) be available at 2:00 pm EST on either Tuesdays or Thursdays - the regular time for our CBWs. The training will take approximately one hour, after which you will serve as a co-moderator for one or more webinars until you are comfortable trying it alone. Each webinar is offered twice, so for each webinar that you host you would first serve as a guide on the trial run and then moderate the final run. We're hoping that each moderator will ultimately moderate one 20-minute webinar every other month. Note that webinar moderators are not responsible for identifying content (although suggestions are welcome), only for moderating pre-scheduled offerings. If you are interested in serving as a webinar moderator, please send an email to [email protected]. Deadline: Thursday, April 15 

Go to AEA's Volunteer Opportunities page
eLibrary Update

The AEA eLibrarians are on the job! We are a working group of member volunteers committed to:
  • Expanding the collection of high-quality resources in the AEA eLibrary,
  • Improving the user experience for the AEA eLibrary, and
  • Increasing the use of the AEA eLibrary.
We just began our work this winter and will be including at least quarterly updates in the newsletter. This month, we wanted to focus on improving the user experience by sharing three ways to locate great resources in the eLibrary:

  1. Make the most of the Search Function: When you are in the eLibrary, click on the 'Search Library' button on the left hand side. Once on the search interface, we recommend in particular expanding the "Search Tags" option where you'll find check boxes for each of AEA's Topical Interest Groups. Checking one or more and clicking 'Search' will help you to find items within that topical area.
  2. Find Related Documents: Once you have found an item of interest, look towards the bottom of its listing and identify the tags and keywords related to that document. Each is a live link and clicking on it will bring up other items with similar foci.
  3. Identify Other Items by the Same Contributor: Click on "view profile" for any contributor in the AEA eLibrary and within the profile you will find a list of all eLibrary documents uploaded by that contributor - each with a live link directly to the document.
Let's get started - check out these recent contributions:
  • Example Evaluation Course Syllabi from Gina Weisblat and Katye Perry
  • How to Guidance on Using Blogger for Evaluation from David Fetterman
  • Slides on Negotiating Context-Appropriate Evaluation Methodologies from Jerushah Rangasami
Or browse the nearly 400 items available there for ones that match your needs and interests.

Go to the AEA eLibrary
New Jobs & RFPs from the AEA Career Center  
What's new this month in the AEA Online Career Center? The following positions and Requests for Proposals (RFPs) have been added recently:
  • Director of Measurement at Chemonics International (Washington, DC, USA)
  • Program Evaluator at Kauffman & Associates, Inc. (Silver Spring, MD, USA)
  • Senior Evaluator at Professional Data Analysts, Inc. (Minneapolis, MN, USA)
  • Senior Director of Program Effectiveness & Analytics - K12 Education at The College Board (New York, NY, USA)
  • Contractor - Environmental Scan at VSA (Washington, DC, USA)
  • Senior Researcher at Boston Public Health Commission (Boston, MA, USA)
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at Society for Neuroscience (Washington, DC, USA)
  • Senior Research Assistant at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute (Philadelphia, PA, USA)
  • Senior Public Health Researcher/Project Manager at SciMetrika, LLC (Durham, NC, USA)
  • Real Time Evaluation of the Haiti Earthquake Response at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Various locations)
Descriptions for each of these positions, and many others, are available in the AEA Online Career Center. According to Google analytics, the Career Center received close to 4000 unique visitors in the past month. It is an outstanding resource for posting your resume or position, or for finding your next employer, contractor or employee.
 
Job hunting? You can also sign up to receive notifications of new position postings via email or RSS feed.
 
Go to the AEA Online Career Center
Get Involved
Get the most from your membership by taking advantage of the many things that you can do right now to participate in the life of the association, share your input, and promote your business.  
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