What Evaluation Hat Are You Wearing?

Today, I’m a social worker.

Profound, right?

A little history: When I was in graduate school one of my supervisors asked me this question: Are you going to be an evaluator with a social work back ground or a social worker with an evaluation background?

I sat and thought about it for a few days and I said, “I’m a social worker!”

Technically I don’t know if this is true, based on the lack thereof a traditional social work experience, but after staying up all night to ensure that a presentation I developed conveyed teachable moments, reflections, and respected and protected all of the stakeholders I felt well rested because I felt my job was done as a social worker. Plus the “Hey, look what I can do with data” presentations get old after a while.

As a social worker I see the programs and individuals that I work with as my clients in a sense

After our assessment, the evaluation plan, logic model, and/or necessary measurement tools serve as a part of the intervention

Monitoring change and making recommendations along the way would be the “case management”

The reports serve as a discussion tool on progress and lessons learned until the end of the project

Reaching? Too much? As much as I want to shake the title sometimes, I guess I’m a social worker at heart. Happy Friday! *runs back to grab hat*


5 thoughts on “What Evaluation Hat Are You Wearing?

  1. We all wear different hats from time to time in life. Recognizing that you don’t have to be confined to just one area is great. Especially like this statement, “… after staying up all night to ensure that a presentation I developed conveyed teachable moments, reflections, and respected and protected all of the stakeholders I felt well rested because I felt my job was done as a social worker.”

    Keep wearing those hats!

  2. Hi Karen,

    Are you familiar with stages of change? When I used to work as an internal evaluator in a youth center, a lot of our social workers, mental health counselors, and substance abuse counselors talked about stages of change (especially for addictions).

    If so… I often think about the connections between stages of change and evaluation. That is, as an evaluator, I’m trying to get my “clients” (the mental health counselors and executive directors, and everyone in between) to think evaluatively, but they’re all at different stages of readiness to think about evaluation.

    Any thoughts on this? I’d love to hear a social worker/evaluator’s perspective.

  3. Ann,

    I am not familiar with the stages of change, but I do see how the stages below can apply to systems changes in general…and getting people to shift their thinking. The model below is from a physician/patient standpoint. I would love to see a model incorporating the stages of change to evaluative thinking. I’m sure there’s something out there! Thanks for sharing!

    Precontemplation (Not yet acknowledging that there is a problem behavior that needs to be changed)

    Contemplation (Acknowledging that there is a problem but not yet ready or sure of wanting to make a change)

    Preparation/Determination (Getting ready to change)

    Action/Willpower (Changing behavior)

    Maintenance (Maintaining the behavior change)

    Relapse (Returning to older behaviors and abandoning the new changes)


    You made a good point that everyone is on a different level when it comes to thinking evaluatively, and some stakeholders think they are thinking evaluatively when they simply request a survey(see my Please! Don’t Ask Me For One More Survey post for that rant http://wp.me/p1FS0t-3g). Assessment is key, whether it’s formal or informal. Evaluation can and should be broken down for all stakeholders to be able to understand because everyone has an important role. I like the way you’re thinking, maybe it’s the “internal evaluator” hat? 🙂

    • Karen,

      The levels you mentioned are the same Stages of Change I was thinking about! Can you see how those stages might apply to non-evaluators throughout the evaluation process?

      When I read “contemplation,” in particular, it makes me think about evaluation use because program staff have to “acknowledge that there is a problem” even if they’re “not yet ready or sure of wanting to make a change.” I’ve seen evaluators dive right in and make suggestions for programmatic changes when the program staff are soooo far away from even recognizing that there might be changes to make, so it’s just too much and too soon. I try to present the results to them piecemeal (I need to blog about this soon….) and I do lots of other stuff throughout the cycle to help them progress.

      Great minds think alike!

  4. Pingback: Just One More Hat-{From Evaluator To Registration Coordinator} « On Top Of The Box Evaluation

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