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    How Do I Get Better at Program Evaluation?

    Updated on: Apr 9th, 2012
    Data Visualization
    Collage of a computer monitor, laptop, calendar, people and charts..

    Program evaluation is still a pretty new field. There are plenty of evaluation textbooks and a handful of graduate programs and courses, but I believe the best way to improve your evaluation skills is by talking with other evaluators.

    Sometimes people mistakenly think that networking = job hunting. Networking with other evaluators isn’t a just-when-you’re-job-hunting-thing or a once-a-year-at-a-conference-thing.

    Talking to other evaluators about their career path, their most rewarding and most challenging projects, their content area expertise, their evaluation approach/philosophy/perspective, and their future evaluation goals is a great way to figure out where your work fits into the bigger scheme of things. They can also introduce you to like-minded evaluators, share resources, and give you advice that improves your day-to-day work.
    Some tips:

    • Get involved with your local American Evaluation Association affiliate. Check out these tips by Raeal Moore from the Ohio Program Evaluators’ Group (OPEG) about Becoming Active in Evaluation Organizations.
    • Visiting DC for a few days? Come to a Washington Evaluators brown bag, board meeting, or happy hour while you’re in town.
    • Attend the Eastern Evaluation Research Society’s annual conference in New Jersey. With just 120 attendees, our small size guarantees that you’ll have plenty of opportunities for really great conversations.
    • Attend the Eastern Evaluation Research Society’s conference session called “Career Advice for New Evaluators and Graduate Students.” We get a handful of board members and advisory board members together to chat casually about career options for evaluators.
    • If you can’t meet face-to-face with other evaluators, read evaluation blogs.
    • If someone messages you about evaluation on LinkedIn, write back!
    • If someone invites you to coffee to chat about evaluation, go!
    • If you love evaluation, don’t be afraid to say so to other evaluators. Tons of nerdy evaluators will be happy to have a partner in crime.
    • If you hate evaluation, don’t be afraid to say so to other evaluators. A lot of evaluators fell into evaluation by accident and can share information about their jobs prior to becoming an evaluator.
    More about Ann K. Emery
    Ann K. Emery is a sought-after speaker who is determined to get your data out of spreadsheets and into stakeholders’ hands. Each year, she leads more than 100 workshops, webinars, and keynotes for thousands of people around the globe. Her design consultancy also overhauls graphs, publications, and slideshows with the goal of making technical information easier to understand for non-technical audiences.

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