Evaluation is an Everyday Activity

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Program Evaluation Discussions
Updated: 1 hour 16 min ago

Decisions. Decisions.

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 1:24pm

How do we make decisions when we think none of the choices are good?  

(Thank you for this thought, Plexus Institute.)

No, I’m not talking about the current political situation in the US. I’m talking about evaluation.

The lead for this email post was “Fixing the frame alters more than the view“.

Art Markman makes this comment (the “how do we make decisions…” comment) here. He says “If you dislike every choice you’ve got, you’ll look for one to reject rather than one to prefer—subtle difference, big consequences.” He based this opinion on research, saying that the rejection mind-set allows us to focus on negative information about options and fixate on the one with the smallest downside.

Rejection mind-set

Evaluation is one area where the evaluator must often choose between the lesser of two evils.

For example, suppose you (the evaluator) gets asked to “retrofit” an evaluation on a program; that retrofit is a happiness questionnaire (you know, how satisfied are the participants with the program delivery).

Now y’all know that the evaluator needs to be included in the planning stages of the program.

Y’all also know that measuring the satisfaction of the participants doesn’t tell you much (if anything).

It certainly doesn’t tell you if a difference was made in learning, behavior, and/or conditions. So what do you do?

Lesser of two options

So what do you do?

Read the research.

Identify the options (even though they are less than desirable).

Make a choice.

See if you can change the frame. See what difference you can make.


The choice I made in the above situation was to change the frame.

I offered a post then pre approach. This avoids happiness questionnaires (or can). And it can offer a difference made in learning, even if retrofitted. It has the smallest downside.

I don’t like to retrofit an evaluation; sometimes it is the lesser of two evils.

Doing what we can

As Stake says, “We promise more than we can really do.”  As evaluators, we continue to do and in the process improve our programs, policies, and organizations. (thank you M. Justin Miller and Tiffany Smith for these wise words).

my .



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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Making a difference? (one more time…)

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 1:05pm
Making a difference

I wrote a blog about making a difference. Many people have read the original post, recently. And there have been many comments about it and the follow-up posts. Most people have made supportive comments. For example:

  1. “I think you’re on the right track – being consistent about adding fresh content and trying to make it meaningful for your audience.”–Kevin;
  2. “Mr. Schaefer is taking stock of his blog–a good thing to do for a blog that has been posted for a while. So although he lists four innovations, he asks the reader to “…be the judge if it made a difference in your life, your outlook, and your business.”– Ưu điểm của máy lọc nước nano;
  3. “Yes, your posts were made sense and a difference. If you think that your doing able to help others, keep going and do the best.”– Samin Sadat;
  4. “Its refreshing to see an academic even pose the question “does this blog make a difference’. Success for You.”– Raizaldi; and
  5. “You are getting the comments and that eventually means that yes this blog is making a difference out there. Keep the good work up.”– Himanshu.
Less than a supportive comment

Some people have made a less than supportive comment. For example:

  1. Wow this pretty outdated by 2016 standards..any updates to the post?–Dan Tanduro (admittedly, this comment refers to a post I did not link above although linked here); and
Some other comments

Some people have made comments that do not relate to content yet are relevant. For example:

  1. “Hello, I have some knowledge of blogspot, but you can teach how to make the blog more faster and enough to our visits. I Think WordPress is better than blogspot, but is only my opinion…”– John Smith; and
  2.  “It’s interesting how careers cross paths, while I am not directly connected to the world of qualitative research, I have found myself trying to understand and integrate it into my daily workload more and more.” –Steinway

Making a difference. I will keep writing.  Making a difference needs to be measured. I keep in mind that stories (comments) are data with soul.

Less than a supportive comment. What is outdated? I need specific comments to which to respond, please. Also, the post to which is being referred is from April, 2012…over four years ago.

Some other comments. I can’t teach how to blog faster for I know nothing about blogspot.  I only know a little about WordPress. Stories are data with a soul–important to remember when dealing with qualitative data.

my .




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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Living evaluators…

Wed, 08/31/2016 - 2:42pm

AEA365 is honoring living evaluators for Labor Day (Monday, September 5, 2016).

Some of the living evaluators I know (Jim Altschuld, Tom Chapel, Michael Patton, Karen Kirkhart, Mel Mark, Lois-Ellin Datta, Bob Stake); Some of them I don’t know (Norma Martinez-Rubin, Nora F. Murphy, Ruth P. Saunders, Art Hernandez, Debra Joy Perez). One I’m not sure of at all (Mariana Enriquez).  Over the next two weeks, AEA365 is hosting a recognition of living evaluator luminaries.

The wonderful thing is that this give me an opportunity to check out those I don’t know; to read about how others see them, what makes them special. I know that the relationships that develop over the years are dear, very dear.

I also know that the contributions that  these folks have made to evaluation cannot be captured in 450 words (although we try). They are living giants, legends if you will.

These living evaluators have helped move the field to where it is today. Documenting their contributions to evaluation enriches the field. We remember them fondly.

If you don’t know them, look for them at AEA ’16 in Atlanta . Check out their professional development sessions or their other contributions (paper, poster, round-table, books, etc). Many of them have been significant contributors to AEA; some have only been with AEA since the early part of this century. All have made a meaningful contribution to AEA.

Many evaluators could be mentioned and are not. Sheila B. Robinson suggests that “…we recognize that many, many evaluators could and should be honored as well as the 13 we feature this time, and we hope to offer another invitation next year for those who would like to contribute a post, so look for that around this time next year, and sign up!

Evaluators honored


James W. Altschuld            Thomas J. Chapel


Norma Martinez-Rubin            Michael Quinn Patton



Nora F. Murphy                                     Ruth P. Saunders



Art Hernandez                          Karen Kirkhart


Mel Mark                                       Lois-Ellin Datta


Debra Joy Perez                           Bob Stake

Mariana Enriquez (Photo not known/found)

my .


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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs