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Session Title: Attending to Context and Situation to Improve Evaluation Process and Reporting
Multipaper Session 298 to be held in TRAVIS D on Thursday, Nov 11, 1:40 PM to 3:10 PM
Sponsored by the
To Communicate or Not to Communicate: How Communication Within Organizations Affects Our Work as Evaluators
Presenter(s):
Namrata Mahajan, Cobblestone Applied Research & Evaluation Inc, namrata.mahajan@cobblestoneeval.com
Rebecca Eddy, Cobblestone Applied Research & Evaluation Inc, rebecca.eddy@cobblestoneeval.com
Hendrick Ruitman, Cobblestone Applied Research & Evaluation Inc, todd.ruitman@cobblestoneeval.com
Abstract: Research on evaluation has provided evidence for the importance of effective communication in conducting a successful study. This research has often focused on the advantages of good communication between evaluators and stakeholders or the importance of dialogue between an organization and its stakeholders. Little is known, however, about the importance of effective communication between stakeholders within an organization, and how communication patterns impact the overall evaluation. This paper discusses the value of communication between stakeholders in the organization and how this communication can affect the work of evaluators (e.g., increased workload and stress). Specific tips are provided via case study examples for evaluators to help stakeholders move in the direction of better communication. Other issues are also addressed, such as the role of the evaluator in improving communication between groups in an evaluation and conditions under which enhancing communication might be detrimental.
Playing in the Intersection of Context and Validity
Presenter(s):
Sheila A Arens, Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning, sarens@mcrel.org
Andrea Beesley, Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning, abeesley@mcrel.org
Abstract: Evaluators presumably reach valid claims through a process of collecting data, determining the importance significance and meaning of the data relative to the evaluand (thereby transforming it into evidence), and inferring conclusions or claims from the evidence. Contextual features play an important role in this process and an important role in evaluative validity. Context has the capacity to shape the outcome of a given evaluation—two evaluations of the same program or phenomenon might result in vastly different assertions. Is one of these more valid than another? This paper presents an exploration of the ways in which context frames evaluative validity and the validity of claims and then, through examples, asserts that an understanding of context is at least as important as following sets of rules for the “proper” conduct of evaluation.
From Quality Evaluations to Quality Learning: The Ten Steps to a Happy Marriage
Presenter(s):
Gabriel Pictet, American Red Cross, gabriel.pictet@ifrc.org
Margaret Stansberry, American Red Cross, margaret.stansberry@ifrc.org
Abstract: Quality evaluations require technical expertise, time and money: to be meaningful, they also need to be embedded in the client’s learning agenda. On the one hand, clients need to focus evaluations on their organizations’ knowledge management strategies, of which evaluations are just one of many components. On the other hand, consultants need to immerse themselves in their clients’ corporate cultures and inform the corpus of evidence-based knowledge. This has important implications on how evaluators advocate for corporate learning. In this paper we revisit the client’s and the evaluator’s respective and complementary roles, in a practical ten step quality framework, from (1) defining the organization’s learning agenda to (10) using the evaluation’s findings to update the organization’s learning agenda, with examples from the authors’ domestic and international evaluation experience and current practice with the America Red Cross Tsunami Recovery Program.

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