This page is a good starting point for learning about Evaluation 2004.

Conference Overview: Examine the Conference Overview to identify key dates, participants, and demographic information related to Evaluation 2004.

The Presidential Strand: The theme for this year's Presidential Strand is "Fundamental Issues." Learn about the Strand, considerations for developing proposals, and how to submit your proposal.

Draft Conference Schedule: This section identifies the daily schedule for the conference week. 

Conference Overview

The Annual Conference of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) is held each year in November. AEA welcomes evaluation practitioners, academics, and students from across the US and around the world to learn from each other in a supportive atmosphere. 

The Conference will be held from November 3-6, 2004 at the Hilton in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Half- one- and two-day professional development workshops will precede and follow the conference itself on November 1-3, and November 7, 2004. 

In 2003, over 1600 people attended the annual conference in Reno, Nevada. This year, we expect an even higher attendance, in the 1600-1800 range. We welcome attendees who are just beginning their careers as well as seasoned experts. Each year, you will find the leading authors in the field presenting their work at the conference including Donna Mertens, Michael Patton, Hallie Preskill, Michael Scriven, and Daniel Stufflebeam. Approximately 10% of those attending come from outside the United States. 

We expect that there will be over 400 separate sessions at the conference showcasing the knowledge and skills of more than 800 presenters. 

Key dates for the conference include:

January 12: Conference website goes online 
March 12: All proposals due to the AEA office
July 1: All accept/reject notices sent to presenters via email
July 1: Professional development workshop descriptions go online
July 1: Online conference registration begins -
click here to go to registration
August 15: First draft of searchable program goes online
October 1: Cutoff date for early registration (registration fees increase)
November 1-3, 7: Professional development workshops offered in Atlanta, GA
November 3-6: Annual Conference, Evaluation 2003, offered in Atlanta, GA

An overview of the draft conference schedule may be found by scrolling down to the bottom of this page.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the AEA office at any time. Susan and Heidi are there to help! They may be reached via email at info@eval.org or via phone at 888-232-2275 or 508-748-3326.

The Presidential Strand

Fundamental issues endure in the evaluation of programs, products, personnel, proposals, and all other types of evaluands. These issues underlie all aspects of evaluation theory, method, and practice, whether they have to do with communication with clients, ethical dilemmas, cultural differences, preparation of new evaluators, work with special populations, governmental service, methodological difficulties, social justice, evaluation influence, or economic survival as a professional. The issues address recurring themes and problems and are the topic of discussion and debate among evaluation theorists, methodologists, and practitioners and sometimes the social science community at large. They form the foundation for the intellectual and practical corpus of evaluation but evolve with changes in programs, politics, ideologies, and technologies. Some issues such as the importance of good evaluation theory, methodology, and practice for contemporary society do not vary much over time; others such as the proper version and expression of evaluative activities in society periodically resurface in new forms, demanding our attention and encouraging new debate and discussion.

Fundamental Issues in Evaluation is the theme of the 2004 American Evaluation Association (AEA) conference. A set of sessions addressing the theme will be presented in the conference Presidential Strand. There is one Strand session during each group of concurrent sessions.

In 2004, the Presidential Strand will provide opportunities for evaluation theorists, methodologists, and practitioners to present conference sessions addressing (a) the core issues of evaluation theory, method, practice, and the profession; (b) the history of these issues and how they have been shaped by events, ideologies, social and cultural settings, technologies, and so forth; (c) the nature of, and foundation for, current interpretations of these issues; and (d) likely changes and trends in the manner in which the issues will be addressed in the future. For the annual conference, we invite you to identify, examine, study, and share your reflections on what you consider to be the most important fundamental issues in your evaluation activities.

Goal of the Strand

The goal of the presidential strand is to have members present timely, insightful, useful, intellectually invigorating papers, panels, debates, demonstrations, and other types of sessions that address fundamental issues in evaluation theory, method, practice, and the profession. Some questions that might help AEA members think about these topics follow.

  • Why should evaluation be done? Is its purpose to improve programs, influence decision making, protect the public, solve social problems, or promote social diversity? What enduring values do various evaluation purposes address, and how have changes in values led to current conceptualizations of purpose? What should be the primary intended uses of evaluation, and can evaluations achieve multiple intended uses?

  • What are the proper social roles for professional evaluators? Should they be researchers, teachers, advocates, facilitators, or judges? To what extent are preferences for social roles masked in discussions about the proper purposes of evaluation? To what extent do evaluators’ preferences for social roles determine their theoretical and methodological choices in an evaluation?

  • What should we consider acceptable evidence for making evaluative decisions? Causal claims? Moral conclusions? Expert opinion? Aesthetic judgments? Stakeholder consensus? How do we arrive at the most valid understandings of quality? Through moral deliberation? With phenomenological renderings? With controlled experiments? How likely is it that the current emphasis among some U. S. policymakers on randomized experiments will enhance or diminish the quality of evaluation evidence?

  • How can stakeholders best be involved in evaluation studies? Should they be uninvolved clients, partial participants, or full collaborators? What types of stakeholders—program personnel, program beneficiaries, citizens, and so forth—should participate? What are the costs and benefits of various kinds and levels of stakeholder participation?

  • What is the most effective way to ensure the quality of evaluation practice? It is through advanced training, accreditation and licensing, developing and enforcing consensual professional standards, mandatory meta-evaluation, or some combination of these? How do evaluators’ approaches to ensuring evaluation quality differ from those of other professionals? To what extent is there a consensus, or lack thereof, about these practices among evaluation professionals?

The comments presented here are intended to stimulate thinking on the topic of the conference theme. Please address any reactions, suggestions, or questions to Paul R. Brandon, the 2004 Presidential Strand chairperson at brandon@hawaii.edu. We look forward to discussing fundamental issues with the evaluation community at Evaluation 2004!

Draft Conference Schedule

The conference schedule 

Monday, November 1, 2004

     9:00 am to 4:00 pm: Concurrent Full-day Professional Development Workshops

  Tuesday, November 2, 2004

9:00 am to 4:00 pm: Concurrent Full-day Professional Development Workshops

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

8:00 am to 3:00 pm: Concurrent Half- and Full-day Professional Development Workshops

3:15 pm to 4:15 pm: Welcome and Presidential Address

4:30 pm to 6:00 pm: Concurrent Conference Sessions

6:30 pm to 7:45 pm: Reception and Information Fair

Thursday, November 4, 2004

8:00 am to 9:10 am: First Plenary

9:25 am to 12:35 pm: Two Sets of 90 Minute Concurrent Conference Sessions

12:45 pm to 1:30 pm: AEA Business Meeting

1:40 pm to 4:50 pm: Two Sets of 90 Minute Concurrent Conference Sessions

5:00 pm to 6:00 pm: Concurrent TIG business meetings

6:30 pm to 7:45 pm: Reception and Poster Exhibition

Friday, November 5, 2004

8:00 am to 9:10 am: Second Plenary

9:25 am to 12:00 pm: Three Sets of 45 Minute Concurrent Conference Sessions

12:10 pm to 1:45 pm: AEA Awards Luncheon

1:55 pm to 6:00 pm: Two Sets of 90 Minute & One Set of 45 Minute Concurrent Conference Sessions

6:30 pm to 7:45 pm: Reception and International Silent Auction

Saturday, November 6, 2004

8:00 am to 9:10 am: Third Plenary

9:25 am to 5:00 pm: Four Sets of 90 Minute & One Set of 45 Minute Concurrent Conference Sessions

7:00 pm to ?:?? pm: Social Event to be announced

Sunday, November 7, 2004

                  9:00 am to 12:00 pm: Concurrent Professional Development Workshops

Questions? Please email the AEA office at info@eval.org or call us at (888) 232-2275 or (508) 748-3326