Sheila B Robinson

Reflections of an everyday educator/program evaluator/professional developer…LEARNER

A Collector’s Paradise (if you enjoy evaluation, that is…)

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Just as I love collecting data (see my post Like an Evaluator in a Data Store), I love gathering evaluation resources. If only googling counted as exercise {sigh}. So, in the holiday spirit of giving, I offer you a brief glimpse of a few favorites from my prized collection: 

WEBSITES

1. American Evaluation Association

The premier US evaluation organization is really an international one whose 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.” Membership is surprisingly affordable and well worth the investment for features such as coffee break webinars, and journal access. However, the public elibrary, EVALTALK listserv, and AEA365 Tip-a-Day blog are open to all and address just about every aspect of evaluation. Membership provides discounts to professional development and the annual conference, both of which offer opportunities to interact with evaluation rock stars as well as the new generation of “movers and shakers.”

2. University of Wisconsin-Extension Program Development and Evaluation 

“PDE is charged with providing leadership and capacity building in program evaluation through in-service education, resource material development, consultation, administrative support and managing high priority evaluations.” Free resources include logic model templates and examples, an evaluation planning booklet and worksheet, quick tips sheets on evaluation planning, data collection strategies, communicating results and much more.

3. Western Michigan University Evaluation Center

The Evaluation Center’s mission “to advance the theory, practice, and utilization of evaluation” is embodied in a plethora of free user-friendly evaluation checklists authored by the likes of Stufflebeam, Stake, Scriven, Patton, House, King, and more.

4. The Free Management Library Basic Guide to Program Evaluation

The Free Management Library “provides free, easy-to-access, online articles to develop yourself, other individuals, groups and organizations.” While this site includes thousands of free articles on a myriad of topics, the Basic Guide to Program Evaluation contains invaluable information on myths of program evaluation, pitfalls to avoid, an overview of methods to collect information and more. Also featured are dozens of links to online guides and other evaluation resources.

5. Better Evaluation

A newly discovered favorite, this “international collaboration to improve evaluation practice and theory by sharing information about options (methods or tools) and approaches” offers a wealth of free resources including their signature “Rainbow Framework and Planning Tool” and an opportunity for evaluators to create content, share resources, and ask for assistance. It’s more an evaluation community than just a website.

BLOGS

Just look over there…no, not there…to your right and up just a bit. There! You found it – a partial list of blogs I follow. Not all relate directly related to evaluation, but most do, and many offer resources beyond blog posts.

BOOKS

1. Utilization-Focused Evaluation 4th Ed. by Michael Quinn PattonUFE book

My favorite comprehensive evaluation text is an absolute treasure trove. At 667 pages, it’s a hefty tome albeit with a hefty price tag, but I wouldn’t offer it unless I truly believed it worth the investment. You know I love a book when every third page spits out a tape flag. What I find appealing is Patton’s writing style through the UFE lens coupled with a generous offering of tables, charts, menus, and cartoons. He addresses evaluative thinking, situational factors that can affect user’s participation and use, strategies for determining the importance of evaluative criteria, and power, politics and ethics among other topics not often covered (or well-covered) in other texts. I appreciate his thorough discussion of goals and outcomes and unique perspective on the quan vs. qual paradigms debate.

2. Evaluation Essentials from A to Z by Marvin Alkin

Easily accessible to the novice evaluator, this text provides a helpful framework for creating an evaluation plan. Alkin includes a case study and offers relevant post-chapter discussion questions that challenge readers to apply concepts.

3. Program Evaluation Methods and Case Studies 8th Ed. by Emil J. Posovac

I own two older editions of this one. The brief well-composed case studies along with an extended discussion of dysfunctional attitudes toward program evaluation  are among the features that make this text distinctive.

4. Evaluation 2nd Ed. by Carol Weiss

A classic, copyright 1998, but one of the best general texts on evaluation. Ever. Just skip over the chapter on computer assisted data analysis!

5. Evaluation Roots A Wider Perspective of Theorists Views and Influences 2nd Ed. by Marvin Alkin

The only place, in my humble opinion, to read the definitive history of evaluation and understand its theoretical underpinnings quite literally from many of the founding fathers (and a few mothers!) of the field. The evaluation theory tree is one of the most thoroughly researched and creative metaphors I’ve seen. I have an older copy of this one, but look forward to adding the 2nd edition to my collection with its updated chapters and new international focus.

Of course, there is much, much more out there in the evalusphere! What are your favorites? I’d love to add to my collection…

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Author: Sheila B Robinson, Ed. D

Voracious learner, career educator... Evaluation, Professional Development, Special Education.

4 thoughts on “A Collector’s Paradise (if you enjoy evaluation, that is…)

  1. Thanks for providing quite the collection Sheila!

    It’s very refreshing to see your regular weekly posts, with refreshing topics. Keep up the great work! 🙂

    -Karen

  2. Great post! My copy of UFE looks just like yours – lots of flagged pages (I’m a bad book-owner and dog-ear a lot too)!

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