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Evaluators, Where Is The Love?

This post is sort of in parallel with Ann Emery’s post: If I wasn’t a program evaluator I’d be a…

Ok, so it’s been ages since my last post. When I say ages, I mean around 1 week…ok 2! That’s years in the blogging world, it might as well be centuries.

I could never leave my beloved evaluation, we’ve had some great times and I’m looking forward to the days ahead, but I feel my interests within the field are evolving.

Social media use, developing reports, making data presentations, data visualization, evaluation research, and general dissemination and use are a few of my areas of interest in evaluation these days.

Have you ever reinvented yourself or switched your area(s) of focus in evaluation?

So, I pose the question to you, where is the love for you? Has it ever fizzled out? What do you to keep the love alive?

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7 thoughts on “Evaluators, Where Is The Love?

  1. That’s a great question, Karen. For me, my true love is helping World Savers. I love being around people who are passionate about making a difference. Over the years I have done this by marketing, fundraising, volunteering, teaching, planning, facilitating – and research and evaluation. The tasks that I do may change, but my core audience stays the same.

  2. Hi Karen,

    I’ve recently noticed a difference in my own evaluation interests as well. A few years ago, my favorite part of the evaluation cycle was analyzing the data. Now, my favorite part is working with the people, either by facilitating meetings, leading trainings, or moderating a focus group. I think that’s the beauty of evaluation, the field’s so big and broad that we can explore different interests throughout our careers.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Ann

    • Ann,

      I’m also very interested in working with the people, getting them engaged, seeing the “evaluation is our friend” lightbulb go off, and just enjoying them as a partner in the evaluation/capacity building process. I guess it’s just a natural evolution, as the people and environments we work in are constantly changing, I believe we should also be open to changes in our practice 🙂

      *embracing the evolution*

  3. I think I’ve re-invented myself in several ways in the evaluation field. First, I started as a behind-the-scenes person, never wanting to leave the safety of an office. That eventually evolved to doing (and enjoying) field work and primary data collection. And that has evolved to more public presentations and trainings of others.

    Second, I wanted to focus only on specific issues (youth violence, gang activity), but eventually expanded out to all youth development topics and issues, and eventually past youth issues as well.

    Third, I started out wanting to prepare reports for governments, foundations, and funders exclusively, but have changed to enjoying preparing reports for direct service providers and the general public.

    I know part of these changes were due to my own personal growth and personality, but I also think that it has mirrored a great deal of what has happened in the evaluation field itself over the past 10-15 years: what used to be viewed as a world for experts only has changed to be more focused on useability and practical evaluation.

    • Very interesting transformations Isaac…

      I started out wanting to get a better understanding of parenting and youth development programs, and through my research, practical application to understanding via evaluation tasks were presented…this worked well for my analytical mind!

      In the beginning I enjoyed qual, especially conducting interviews and focus groups, I switched to quant, but lately I’ve wandered somewhere in the middle in regards to my preference, because they both have their strengths/weaknesses.

      I see evaluation as a great way to continue learning and development for the stakeholders involved and for me as well.I’m glad to hear that this is “natural” and I should just take it as a growth spurt! *yay*

  4. Great question Karen.

    My passion for evaluation lies in the ability to continually learn something new about a program, especially when we are ‘knee deep’ in the data analysis – I love it when I stumble across a fascinating finding that was completely unexpected. But this passion also leads to my frustrations with evaluation because it can be so easy to get lost in the different analysis technicques and data collection methodologies that it can become overwhelming at times. In these moments I often find myself asking: What was the purpose of this analysis? What questions am I trying to answer? Is my analysis answering all of these questions?

    To keep my love alive in these moments of frustration, I’m learning to take the analysis (and reporting) one question at a time; in brief, 2-3 page newsletter type formats. Not only is this much more manageable, but it makes it easier to present the data in a more meaningful, whithout getting stakeholders lost in all the tecnhical findings and jargon of a 100 page report.

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