Newsletter: September 2010Vol 10, Issue 9

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This Year's Presidential Strand Sessions

cooksy2Dear Colleagues,

 

AEA's annual conference is only several weeks away! The last newsletter included some information about the 2010 plenary speakers. This issue, I will highlight other sessions in the Presidential Strand and encourage you to search the online program to see all the great presentations, think tanks, and skill-building opportunities (not to mention the receptions and other social events!) that are available this year. By going to the online program, you can easily search by presenter, key word, sponsor (TIG and others), or just browse.

Two sessions that I am particularly excited about are a Think Tank session on the proposed public statement on the Importance of Cultural Competence in Evaluation and a Skill-Building Workshop focusing on the new edition of the Program Evaluation Standards. Several of you used the opportunity to comment on the draft statement earlier this month. I appreciate your thoughtful input, and look forward to the Think Tank discussion organized by the Task Force that has been working diligently for some time on the statement. As the abstract in the conference program says, this discussion "will help shape the final version of this statement and create a vision for moving toward wider attention to culture in evaluation." The Skill Building Workshop on the new standards will provide opportunities to think through how the standards can be used in evaluation quality improvement and accountability. This session really stands out to me because of my interest in metaevaluation and the ways in which we can incorporate metaevaluative practices in our work.

While I have highlighted these two Presidential Strand sessions, the others are also certainly worthy of notice. I hope you will take a moment to explore the full set to find those that address topics of special interest to you.

Next newsletter, I'll share a preview of the Board's agenda for the November meeting that occurs right before the conference. As always, feel free to contact me if you have concerns or ideas about AEA's future ([email protected]). I can't promise anything, but I assure you that I and the Board take your input seriously.

In the meantime, don't forget to tune into the Thought Leaders series with Laura Leviton (September 26-October 2) going on this week!

Best wishes,

Leslie

Leslie Cooksy
2010 AEA President
In This Issue
Joint Committee Nominees Sought
Policy Watch with George Grob
2010 Award Winners
Meet Richard Dackam-Hgatchou
TechTalk with LaMarcus Bolton
Summer Institute Dates
Silent Auction 2010
Book: Program Evaluation Prism
Volunteer Opportunities
New Jobs Postings
Get Involved
About Us
Quick Links
Nominees Sought for AEA Representative to Joint Committee 

Created in 1975, the Joint Committee (JC) on Standards for Educational Evaluation is a coalition of major professional associations dedicated to promoting high quality evaluation based on sound evaluation practices and procedures. The Joint Committee has published three sets of standards for evaluations that are now widely recognized. The Personnel Evaluation Standards (2nd edition) was published in 2008, The Program Evaluation Standards (3rd edition) was published in 2010, and The Student Evaluation Standards was published in 2003.

 

AEA's representative to the Joint Committee works with JC colleagues while representing a stance in alignment with AEA's Mission, Vision, and Values. She or he acts independently, yet brings questions or concerns back to the Values Priority Area Team and AEA Board and ensures that the voice of AEA members is reflected throughout review and vetting processes. The representative will serve a three-year term beginning January 1, 2011 and ending December 31, 2013.

 

The person serving in this position is likely a senior member, dedicated to the field, and with a knowledge of the breadth and depth of practice required to speak authoritatively when developing and refining evaluation standards. Individuals seeking to serve need to have a demonstrated range of experience in evaluation, and a commitment to representing the diversity of people and perspectives reflected in the field and membership.

 

The Joint Committee meets generally once a year, each fall. In addition, the JC sponsors a session at the AEA annual conference and occasionally hosts field trials. The AEA representative would have her or his expenses paid to attend the Joint Committee meeting and up to one field trial or other standards-related gathering in a year (although in most years there are none). He or she should anticipate ongoing correspondence and potentially participation on a JC subcommittee that would conduct its work via conference call and email.

 

To learn more about the work of the Joint Committee, please review the JC websiteOur current representative, Hazel Symonette, is completing her term and is available for inquiries if you have specific questions regarding the position. She may be reached at [email protected].

 

If you are interested in being considered as AEA's representative, please compile the following into a single file and submit it by Monday, October 18, 2010:


  • A one-page statement of interest telling us why you would like to serve

  • A one-page bio reflecting your evaluation background and commitment to the mission, vision, and values of the association

  • A current curriculum vita or resume


Please send your submission file via email to the AEA office at
[email protected].

 

If you should have questions, please do not hesitate to contact AEA President Leslie Cooksy at [email protected].

Policy Watch - AEA Member Input to Evaluation Policy
From George Grob, Consultant to the Evaluation Policy Task Force
 
Grob

I want to thank AEA members for their participation in the development of evaluation policy. While the AEA Board of Directors and the Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) were anxious to get input from AEA members on emerging evaluation policy issues, initially it was not clear how to go about it. The most fundamental barrier has always been the short deadlines under which national policy making machinery functions. To an outsider, it looks like laws, regulations, and budgets take years to enact. That is true, but the individual steps of those processes are carried out in bursts of rapid fire consultations. Opportunities for public input on a particular policy are often limited to just a few weeks or even less. The EPTF has sometimes had to review proposed policies and draft advice in a matter of days.

 

But this last year has been a season of opening doors for all of us. The Board, the EPTF, and AEA members, have learned how to engage one another in the policy processes. All have been involved in redrafting of the Evaluation Roadmap, advising the Office of Management and Budget on ways to improve implementation of the Paperwork Reduction Act, and, more recently, commenting on the Department of Health and Human Services' proposal for rating the effectiveness of delivery mechanisms for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program.

 

As I write this article, two opportunities for AEA member input are pending:


  • Please vote by October 7 on whether to approve the Evaluation Roadmap as a public statement on behalf of AEA. Use this link to vote


It is also noteworthy that in several cases (foreign assistance legislation, the Paperwork Reduction Act, and the GAO Audit Guide), it was AEA members who alerted us to the opportunity for AEA to provide advice. I encourage you to consider joining the EPTF discussion list to share your ideas regarding possibly policy-influencing opportunities or to email me directly at [email protected].

 

It has been my pleasure to work with so many of you. But more than that, your participation has been very important to AEA and to the evaluation profession. The AEA Board and the EPTF hope you will continue to stay engaged on the policy front, and to be eyes and ears, alerting us to evaluation policies as they arise. Thank you so much.

AEA Announces 2010 Award Winners 

AEA is proud to announce the winners of its 2010 Awards. Honored this year will be recipients in four categories who have helped heighten international evaluation efforts, spearhead a groundbreaking new journal, influence a health initiative that impacted the lives of children and families in five urban communities and influence a new generation of evaluators who offer greater diversity both within the field and the association. Join us as we recognize our 2010 honorees at AEA's annual conference in San Antonio.

"This year's winners demonstrate the vitality of our profession," says AEA's 2010 President Leslie Cooksy, "and we are all very fortunate to have such talented people doing such important work. "

Receiving awards will be:

RughVeteran evaluator Jim Rugh, AEA's representative to the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE) where he serves on the Executive Committee. He was one of the early leaders of AEA's International and Cross-Cultural Evaluation Topical Interest Group, now one of its largest with 800-plus members, and co-author of the popular and practical RealWorld Evaluation book. An independent consultant based in Sevierville, Tennessee, Rugh will be presented AEA's Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Evaluation Practice Award.

 

MorellFounding editor Jonathan A. Morell of Evaluation and Program Planning, an international professional journal launched in 1978 that is still both avidly read and globally relevant three decades later. A contributor to exploring and developing novel approaches to the evaluation of unintended consequences and the integration of agent based modeling with traditional evaluation methodologies, the Ann Arbor, Michigan resident still serves as editor and will be recognized with AEA's Lazarsfeld Evaluation Theory Award.

 

WeitzmanProfessor of health and public policy at New York University (NYU), Beth C. Weitzman, who led a team of evaluators that has won rave reviews for its ability to examine the impact of a 10-year initiative to improve the health and safety of children and youth in large distressed cities that included Baltimore, Detroit, Oakland, Philadelphia,  and Richmond. The long-term nature of the project and its impact at multiple sites made it particularly challenging and comprehensive both in scope and in evaluation efforts. Weitzman's NYU team will be presented with AEA's Outstanding Evaluation Award.

HopsonAEA's 2012 President Rodney K. Hopson, who founded AEA's Graduate Education Diversity Internship program in 2003, co-founded a local affiliate in western Pennsylvania in 1999, and has actively contributed to the association since he himself joined as a student in 1988. Now an internationally-recognized professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Hopson will be presented AEA's 2010 Robert Ingle Service Award.

We will  spotlight each of the recipients in a future issue of AEA's monthly newsletter. Stay tuned and, if attending Evaluation 2010, please congratulate them personally at AEA's awards luncheon on Friday, November 12.
Meet Richard Dackam-Hgatchou, United Nations Population Fund
AEA's 6,300 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 Answers column. This month's profile spotlights Richard Dackam-Ngatchou, who brings great international experience and perspective.
 

DackamName, Affiliation: Richard Dackam-Ngatchou, United Nations Population Fund/Democratic Republic of Congo (UNFPA/DRC)

Degree: Ph.D. in Demography

Years in the evaluation field: 20 

Joined AEA: mid-1990s

 

Why do you belong to AEA?

"AEA is a unique knowledge base in the field of evaluation. Being a member gives me the opportunity to remain up-to-date on evaluation by benefiting from the articles and views of specialists of evaluation design, implementation, use of evaluation findings for decision-making, meta-evaluation, and other articles as enthusiastic as "teaching evaluation with humor" by Michael Q. Patton. I discovered AEA thanks to a colleague of mine while we were developing UNFPA's M&E toolkit."

 

Why did you decide to work in the field of evaluation?

"As a demographer, evaluation is part of my daily work. My interest in this field came from previous positions as a researcher on causes and determinants of children mortality in Africa and teacher of evaluation and adjustment of imperfect data. Later on, as a project manager and an evaluator of UNFPA and UNICEF funded programs and projects, and now as UNFPA Country Representative or simply a user of evaluation findings in all these functions, I use evaluation as a tool for accountability and improved performance."

 

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

"I was tasked by UNFPA to evaluate the technical and managerial capacity of a population and development research institute in Mali, to identify potential areas of collaboration with UNFPA Country offices and to suggest workable approaches for the future to ensure appropriate development and sustainability in addressing critical areas of concern. I prepared an evaluation questionnaire on institutional capacity, which was discussed with key stakeholders of the evaluation two weeks before the mission to Mali. This questionnaire aimed at improving my neutrality and independence as a fellow staff of UNFPA. A participatory approach to this evaluation led to different conclusions from the qualitative information gathered earlier on and more importantly reconciled UNFPA Country Offices views with the findings from CERPOD self assessment. I was proud when, together with CERPOD executives and senior researchers, we agreed on the fact that some best practices identified before the evaluation revealed to be not best practices."

 

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

  • Seek and acquire real skills in evaluation because the practice of evaluation has become a true profession nowadays

  • Never approach the evaluation as a police inquiry because very often evaluation is formative for all stakeholders

  • Be very modest because any project involving change in any human population cannot be holistic enough to encompass all the factors of success or failure.


If you know someone who represents The Face of AEA, send recommendations to AEA's Communications Director, Gwen Newman, at [email protected].
TechTalk - Mobile Smartphones in the Workplace
From LaMarcus Bolton, AEA Technology Director
 
Bolton

Technology is not just for personal use anymore. Many individuals are incorporating technology into their workflows for increased efficiency and productivity. I spoke with several of our 2010 AEA/CDC Summer Institute attendees to see what their favorite tech tools are and how they integrate those tools into their everyday work.

 

The most popular tech tool amongst our attendees, as common as it is, is the mobile smartphone. Today's smartphones, such as the Apple iPhone and RIM Blackberry, make working-on-the-go easy and convenient. They offer portable accessibility to email, instant messaging, websites, documents, and anything else the working professional would need. Our Institute attendees had creative uses for their smartphones when it came to work-related tasks.

 

Having round-the-clock access to email is one of the most valued features of smartphones. One of our attendees, Daniel Kim, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Project Manager at the Virginia Department of Health, explained, "I like the fact that I am able to check my email in real time since the mail server pushes the email out as soon as I get them." Kate Landis, Program Director from the Southcentral Foundation, finds that her smartphone allows her to stay on top of emails when out of the office. She finds the email accessibility to be incredibly time-saving. "By using a smartphone, I am able to spend less time in the evenings after meetings dealing with correspondence."

 

Another valued asset of smartphones is the convenience of accessing documents via the phone itself. Using the application Documents 2, Mississippi State Department of Health Asthma Evaluator, Zundra Bateaste-Sutton, turned her iPhone into a mobile flash drive. She explained, "I am able to keep all of my Word documents on my phone and once I upload them, I don't have to worry about getting them from a jump drive or re-downloading them."

 

Mobile smartphones are also useful for staying abreast of current topics of interest. Daniel Kim uses social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to stay informed of heart disease and stroke research. Having access to such sites in the palm of his hands is indispensable. He finds news feeds to be particularly valuable. "If a topic of my interest is mentioned, I will at least click through their shared links or even do research on my own that I wouldn't have done otherwise, especially if it's not mentioned in mainstream news."

 

This article is one part of a short series on technology use in evaluation. If you have interesting ways of using mobile phones or other technology in your work, please consider sharing within our technology forum. If you have any other questions, I can always be reached at [email protected]

2011 Summer Institute Dates Announced - June 14-16, 2011

Save the dates! We have finalized the logistics for the 2011 AEA/CDC Summer Evaluation Institute. We'll be meeting Monday-Wednesday, June 14-16, 2011, with a full-day pre-Institute workshop the prior Sunday. The training Institute will be held at the lovely Crowne Plaza Ravinia in Atlanta, Georgia.

Registration and hotel reservations will open for the Institute in March. We'll be sure to send notice to members via email, post it on the AEA website, and include it in our weekly headlines and resources alert. Look for this year to feature a mix of cutting edge content and returning favorites with an emphasis on strategies to improve your practice.

Silent Auction 2010 - Unique Gifts, Great Cause, Fun Times

It's not too early to begin thinking of the unique gifts you could contribute to AEA's annual silent auction, which draws items from around the globe and that helps bring in attendees from around the world.

Last year's Silent Auction, held in conjunction with Evaluation 2009 conference in Orlando, Florida, offered a varied assortment of chocolates, handcrafted designs, distinctive attire, unique novelties and evaluation books penned and autographed by esteemed friends and colleagues. Some 250 contributions were made available for viewing and bid and, by night's end, those who competed for prized items contributed more than $4,800 to the popular fundraiser. The event, coordinated by the International and Cross-Cultural Evaluation Topical Interest Group, benefits AEA's International Travel Awards. These awards are used to help offset travel expenses for presenters who reside in developing countries or countries in transition and encourage their participation internationally.

"I think it's safe to say that we received more donated items in 2009 than ever before," says Antoinette Brown, 2009 event coordinator.AEA's silent auction dates back to 1998 and this year's event will be held Friday night, Nov.  12. Please give thought to what you might contribute to this unique tradition. The selection becomes grander each year and we value each and every gift and what they represent. We look forward to another fun-filled night that will benefit a cause close to heart.

This wonderful event happens because lots of wonderful people contribute their time and effort, mostly on Friday afternoon. We need you to be a part of this great team! Want to help colleagues from around the world to be able to attend Evaluation 2011? If you'd like to help us plan and set up, we'd definitely value your assistance. Please send an email to Tessie Catsambas at [email protected] to get involved.
 
Donations should be tuned in at the AEA registration desk any time before 1 p.m. on Friday. We can't wait to see your creative and clever contributions. As always, thank you all!
The Program Evaluation Prism: Using Statistical Methods to Discover Patterns

AbbottAEA member Martin Lee Abbott is author of a new book from Wiley Publishing. The Program Evaluation Prism: Using Statistical Methods to Discover Patterns begins with a basic introduction to evaluation methodology, and its ability to recognize embedded patterns of meaning in research data. Subsequent chapters explore the statistical tools that can be applied by researchers and evaluators irrespective of the design that was used to generate this data.

 

From the Publisher's Site:

"This book is a comprehensive treatment of correlation/regression techniques and using SPSS for interpretation of findings. Striking a balance between detailed coverage and approachability, this book provides a thorough treatment of the elements of regression and how they can be used with real research problems in program evaluation." 

 

From the Author:

"Evaluation research approaches often fall into two camps separated by a vast chasm," says Abbott. "One camp avoids complex statistical approaches, but in so doing misses the discovery of hidden understanding. The other camp is so taken with statistical complexity that evaluators are left confused and bereft of valuable avenues for greater understanding. I wrote this book to avoid both the Scylla of simplicity and the Charybdis of complexity. The Program Evaluation Prism provides an approachable understanding of statistical tools that can actually be used to discover hidden understanding.

 

"I present nothing new in the book to mathematicians and statisticians," adds Abbott, "but I use real data to show in detail how to extract meaning and formulate conclusions to evaluation questions. Among the more rewarding aspects of writing the book was developing actual research that I have done in which new understanding emerged from old assumptions. Some of these 'new understandings' are controversial in educational research, but I believe the findings can be helpful to anyone concerned with education reform efforts."

 

About the Author:

Martin Lee Abbott is Professor of Sociology at Seattle Pacific University, where he has taught for over twenty-five years. He has taught statistics and research methods courses to students at all levels and in different academic fields. He also serves as Executive Director of the Washington School Research Center, an independent research and data analysis center funded initially by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Abbott has held positions in both academia and industry, focusing his consulting and teaching in the areas of program evaluation, applied sociology, statistics, and research methods.

 

AEA members receive a 20% discount on this title when ordering directly from Wiley Publishing. To receive your discount, use the promotional code ABB10.  

 

Go to the Publisher's Site

Volunteer Opportunities - Evaluation 2010 Session Chairs & Session Scribes
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.
 
Session Scribes:Are you going to Evaluation 2010 in San Antonio? Is there a specific session that you just can't wait to attend? We'd like to do a series of aea365 posts - our tip-a-day alerts by and for evaluators - on lessons learned at the annual conference. As a contributor, you would attend a specific session of your choice and write up your lessons learned, hot tips, and great resources identified from the session. The contributions are 250-400 words in length (less than a page), and we'll provide you with a basic template. aea365 posts are positive and informative - these are not session critiques but rather informative sharing through which those who could not attend the session may learn vicariously. We estimate that your total time investment would be about an hour outside of the session you choose to attend. If you would like to participate, please review the online conference program, write down the session names and numbers for a first and second choice session for which you would like to share your lessons learned, and send an email by October 15 to Susan Kistler in the AEA office at [email protected] indicating for which session you are interested in serving as chair and a very brief note as to the nature of your background or interest in the topic. We will take volunteers until October 7 or until all sessions are filled, whichever comes first.
 
Evaluation 2010 Conference Multipaper Session Chairs:We are seeking session chairs for the following multipaper sessions at Evaluation 2010 in San Antonio. In order to volunteer, you need only have an interest in the topic, be attending the conference, and be able to coordinate the session as described in our guidelines for session chairs. Please note that each listing is independent of the others - we are seeking different volunteer chairs for each session (and wish again to thank the over 300 people who have already stepped forward to chair a session!). Chairing a session is a great way to get involved, learn more about the topic, and connect with the presenters:

If you are interested in Chairing any of the above sessions, please first review the guidelines for session chairs and then send an email to Susan in the AEA office at [email protected] indicating for which session you are interested in serving as chair and a very brief note as to the nature of your background or interest in the topic. We will take volunteers until October 7 or until all sessions are filled, whichever comes first.

New Jobs & RFPs from AEA's 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:

  • Evaluation Specialist at United Nations Population Fund (New York, NY, USA) 
  • Mid-Term Evaluation Consultant, ACT Program at Winrock International (USA; Bangladesh) 
  • Health Education Specialist 2 at Oak Ridge Associated Universities (Atlanta, GA, USA; Oak Ridge, TN, USA)  
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at Management Systems International (Bethesda, MD, USA)
  • Director of Outcome Evaluation at Institute for Community Living (New York, NY, USA) 
  • Evaluation Assistant at SmartStart Educational Consulting Services (Irvine, CA, USA) 
  • Assistant Professor/Evaluation Specialist at University of New England, College of Graduate Studies (Portland, ME, USA)
  • Research Assistant IV at at Harvard Family Research Project (Cambridge, MA, USA)
  • Senior Research Associate at Cornell University ILR (Ithaca, NY, USA)
  • Research Analyst III at SRI International (Menlo Park, CA, USA)
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 over nearly 5000 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.
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