Dipping Your Toes into Evaluation in Five Easy Steps: Tips, Tricks, and Lessons Learned
With limited funding, staffing, and resources for STEMeducation projects, the push for rigorous evaluation of our efforts offers up significant challenges, but opportunities as well. Evaluative thinking can enrich and improve the entire life cycle of an education, communication, or outreach project, and can take many forms other than a final, summative evaluation report. The community of attendees at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific will share an abundance of evaluation expertise, approaches, and results, but where does one turn if evaluation is a new concept or responsibility? This
session will briefly highlight five tips, tricks, and lessons learned from the perspective of a novice and from a NASA project new to evaluation. The resources and ideas shared in the session will represent the concrete advice and driving ideas that put the author on firmer evaluative footing. Themes explored will include: (1) strategies for incorporating evaluative thinking early in the development of a project and throughout its life cycle; (2) the benefit of taking the time to elucidate a program’s logic model of theory of action; (3) linking program activities to outcomes that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely); (4) working with an external or internal evaluator; and (5) taking evaluation beyond the formal, final report. Finally, we’ll close
with resources to help individuals and their organizations learn more about evaluation and build their evaluation capacity.