Newbie Evaluator Essentials

May 22nd, 2012 / Data Visualization / ,

Blog swap! Karen Anderson and I are mixing things up today by guest-posting on each other’s blogs.
Karen Anderson is my favorite “newbie” evaluator. Karen completed a master’s degree in social work a couple years ago. She’s currently an evaluator at a nonprofit in Atlanta and she’s the Diversity Programs Intern for the American Evaluation Association. In all her “spare” time, she’s doing pro-bono evaluation for the State of Black Gay America Summit organizers. And she’s a blogger!
You can read Karen’s LinkedIn profile here, and you can read her blog, On Top of the Box Evaluation, by clicking here.
I hope you enjoy Karen’s guest post.
— Ann Emery
When I think about the “newbie” evaluator or the not so new professional to the evaluation field and the necessary knowledge base and skills needed to not only survive, but to thrive, I reflect upon Jean King’s Essential Competencies for Program Evaluators.
King’s Essential Competencies for Program Evaluators include:

  1. Professional Practice: These are the fundamental norms and values of evaluation practice, which include working ethically, applying evaluation standards, and considering the public welfare, which is further explained in the AEA Guiding Principles for Evaluation under Responsibilities for General and Public Welfare.
  2. Situational Analysis: The unique interests, issues, and contextual circumstances of evaluation.
  3. Reflective Practice: One’s own evaluation expertise and need for growth, which includes knowing self, reflecting on your practice, pursuing professional development, and building professional relationships.
  4. Interpersonal Competence: Do you have the people skills for evaluation practice? This includes negotiation skills, conflict resolution, cross cultural competence, and facilitating constructive interpersonal interactions.
  5. Project Management: King describes this as the “nut and bolts” of evaluation work” in the presentation above. This includes presenting work in a timely manner , budgeting, responding to RFPs, use of technology, and supervising and training others.
  6. Systematic Inquiry: The technical aspects of evaluation. What’s your knowledge base? Do you know qualitative, quantitative, and/or mixed methods? Developing program theory, evaluation design and evaluation questions are also major components of this competency area.

So in terms of the Essential Competencies for Program Evaluators, how are you doing? I wish I had some type of rating scale to help me to see how far I’ve come along. I’d have to say on the job training, webinars, and seeking out evaluation trainings, no matter how brief, like the online American Evaluation Association’s Coffee Break Demonstration Series has helped me to come a long way since my grad school days (2010).
Newbies: What are some “essentials” that you think are missing from above that relate to your evaluation practice growth and development?
Not so newbies: What steps do you take to sharpen your evaluation skills and to increase your knowledge base?
— Karen Anderson

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