Elaine Craft

Director, South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence, Florence-Darlington Technical College

Elaine Craft has served as Director of the National Science Foundation-funded South Carolina Advanced Technological (SC ATE) Center of Excellence since 1994. Currently, she serves as Principal Investigator (PI) for the NSF ATE-funded Mentor-Connect: Leadership Development and Outreach for ATE project and as Co-PI for the SC ATE National Resource Center for Expanding Excellence in Technician Education both based at Florence-Darlington Technical College, Florence, SC. She also serves as Co-PI for the NSF ATE Regional Center for Aviation and Automotive Technology Education using Virtual E-Schools (CA2VES) based at Clemson University, SC, and co-leader for the Community College Technical Assistance project based at Collin County Community College, Frisco, TX. In addition, Craft is President/CEO of SCATE Inc., a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit corporation created in 2005 to promote systemic change in Advanced Technological Education and help sustain the SC ATE Center of Excellence.

For SCATE Inc., Craft conducts and/or oversees external evaluation of projects funded by the National Science Foundation, US Department of Education, US Department of Labor, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and US Department of Agriculture as well as curriculum development, program improvement, and faculty development focused on problem-based learning. She received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Mississippi and an MBA from the University of South Carolina.


Webinar: Small-Scale Evaluation

Posted on December 12, 2016 by , , in Webinars

Presenter(s): Elaine Craft, Lori Wingate, Miranda Lee
Date(s): February 15, 2017
Time: 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern
Recording: https://youtu.be/IX4trZgsuMc

Small-scale projects need small-scale evaluation. Properly scoping an evaluation for a small project requires defining realistic process and outcome indicators and maximizing use of limited resources. In addition, evaluations need to be planned to produce timely and compelling evidence to set the stage for future funding and project growth. In the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, “small grants” are $200,000 or less over three years, awarded to community colleges that have not been funded by ATE within the past 10 years. Webinar participants will learn the basics of small-scale evaluation, using a typical ATE small project as the case example.

This webinar is an updated version of EvaluATE’s March 2016 webinar, Small Project Evaluation: Principles and Practices.

Resources:
Slides
Handout

Webinar: Small Project Evaluation: Principles and Practices

Posted on February 10, 2016 by , , , , in Webinars

Presenter(s): Charlotte Forrest, Elaine Craft, Lori Wingate, Miranda Lee, Russell Cannon
Date(s): March 23, 2016
Time: 1-2:30 p.m. EDT
Recording: https://youtu.be/WUFTMyyRgyU

An effective small project evaluation requires a clear-cut and feasible project plan, an evaluation plan that matches the project’s scope and purpose, and a project team and external evaluator who are willing and able to share responsibility for implementing the evaluation. In this webinar, we will review foundational principles of small project evaluation and discuss strategies for putting them into practice for a high-quality, economical, and useful evaluation of a small project.

Webinar participants will be able to

  1. Create or refine a project logic model that accurately represents a project’s activities and intended outcomes as a foundation for an evaluation plan.
  2. Develop evaluation questions that are appropriate for a small project.
  3. Identify project process and outcome indicators for answering the evaluation questions.

Resources:
Slides
Handout

Blog: Adapting Based on Feedback

Posted on May 13, 2015 by  in Blog ()

Director, South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence, Florence-Darlington Technical College

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The Formative Assessment Systems for ATE project (FAS4ATE) focuses on assessment practices that serve the ongoing evaluation needs of projects and centers. Determining these information needs and organizing data collection activities is a complex and demanding task, and we’ve used logic models as a way to map them out. Over the next five weeks, we offer a series of blog posts that provide examples and suggestions of how you can make formative assessment part of your ATE efforts. – Arlen Gullickson, PI, FAS4ATE

Week 4 – Why making changes based on evidence is important

At the Mentor-Connect: Leadership Development and Outreach for ATE project (www.Mentor-Connect.org), formative feedback guides the activities we provide and resources we develop. It is the compass that keeps us heading in the direction of greatest impact. I’ll share three examples of how feedback in the different stages of the project’s life cycle helped us adapt the project. The first was feedback from an outside source; the second two were based on our internal feedback processes.

Craft LM1 Pic

The initial Mentor-Connect technical assistance workshop for each cohort focuses on developing grant writing skills for the NSF ATE program. The workshop was originally designed to serve teams of two STEM faculty members from participant colleges; however, we were approached by grant writers from those colleges who also wanted to attend. On a self-pay basis, we welcomed these additional participants. Post-workshop surveys and conversations with grant writers at the event indicated that during the workshop we should offer a special breakout session just for grant writers so that issues specific to their role in the grant development and submission process could be addressed. This breakout session was added and is now integral to our annual workshop.

Craft LM2 Pic

Second, feedback from our mentors about our activities caused us to change the frequency of our face-to-face workshops. Mentors reported that the nine-month time lag between the project’s January face-to-face workshop with mentors and the college team’s submission of a proposal the following October made it hard to maintain momentum. Mentors yearned for more face-to-face time with their mentees and vice versa. As a result, a second face-to-face workshop was added the following July. Evaluation feedback from this second gathering of mentors and mentees was resoundingly positive. This second workshop is now incorporated as a permanent part of Mentor-Connect’s annual programming.

Craft LM3 pic

Finally, one of our project outputs helps us keep our project on track. We use a brief reporting form that indicates a team’s progress along a grant development timeline. Mentors and their mentees independently complete and submit the same form. When both responses indicate “ahead of schedule” or “on time” or even “behind schedule,” this consensus is an indicator of good communications between the mentor and his or her college team. They are on the same page. If we observe a disconnect between the mentee’s and mentor’s progress reports, this provides an early alert to the Mentor-Connect team that an intervention may be needed with that mentee/mentor team. Most interventions prompted by this feedback process have been effective in getting the overall proposal back on track for success.

With NSF ATE projects, PIs have the latitude and are expected to make adjustments to improve project outcomes. After all, it is a grant and not a contract. NSF expects you to behave like a scientist and adjust based on evidence. So, don’t be glued to your original plan! Change can be a good thing. The key is to listen to those who provide feedback, study your evaluation data, and adjust accordingly.

Webinar: High-Impact, Low-Cost Evaluation for Small Projects

Posted on December 8, 2014 by , , , , in Webinars

Presenter(s): Dennis Faber, Elaine Craft, Jason Burkhardt, Lori Wingate, Mentor-Connect
Date(s): February 18, 2015
Time: 1:00 PM EST
Recording: http://youtu.be/1JPVHEOAEYg

“Small Grants for Institutions New to the ATE Program” is a funding track specifically designed for community colleges that have not had an ATE award within the past 10 years. Like all ATE awards, these projects—up to $200,000 over three years—are required to have an external evaluation that matches the scope of the project. In this webinar, EvaluATE and Mentor-Connect are teaming up to provide guidance on evaluation to current and prospective recipients of small ATE awards—or anyone tasked with producing a meaningful and useful evaluation for a small-scale project.  We’ll discuss how to design an evaluation that will generate the evidence needed to support claims of project success and set the stage for larger-scale projects in the future.

Resources:
Slide PDF
Handout PDF
Recording: Maximizing Evaluation Impact & Minimizing Evaluation

Blog: Managing Your Evaluator

Posted on November 12, 2014 by  in Blog () ()

Director, South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence, Florence-Darlington Technical College

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

I am Elaine Craft, Director of the SC ATE Center of Excellence since 1995 and President/CEO of SCATE Inc. since 2005. My dual roles mean that I am both a grantee and an evaluator. I’ve seen the ups, the downs, the good, and the bad on both sides of evaluation.

Managing your evaluator begins even before you contract for this service, as the contract sets parameters for the work ahead. It is your responsibility to see that your evaluator and the evaluation are serving your project well. Keep in mind that you will need to include much of the information the evaluator will be generating in the “Results of Prior Support” section of your next NSF ATE proposal!

It is helpful if your evaluator not only knows the essentials of project evaluation, but also understands the NSF ATE program and the two-year college environment. If you have an evaluator who hasn’t “walked a mile in your community college moccasins,” you will need to devote time to helping him or her understand your environment and the students you serve. There may also be terminology that is specific to community colleges, your institution, or your discipline that needs to be explained.

Everyone is busy, so scheduling should be a top priority. Share a copy of your institution’s calendar and discuss good times and bad times for certain activities. For example, the timing of student surveys is particularly sensitive to the academic calendar. Also, your evaluator may want to attend special project events such as advisory board meetings, professional development events, or summer camps. These dates should be scheduled with your evaluator as early as possible, as the evaluator is likely to have other clients and commitments that must be taken into consideration.

Make sure that you have a clear understanding with your evaluator about when reports are due. You should ask to receive your annual evaluation report before your annual report to the NSF is due. You will want to have time to review the report and work with your evaluator to correct any errors of fact before it is finalized and presented to the NSF or others.

Don’t settle for fewer evaluation services than you have contracted for, but also avoid adding things that were not in the original contract. The evaluator may be amenable to some modifications in the scope of work, but keeping your project and evaluation aligned with the original plan will help avoid mission creep for both the project and the evaluator.

Last, speak up! Your evaluator can’t adjust to better meet your expectations if you don’t articulate areas that are especially great and/or areas of concern. If both grantee and evaluator are on the same page and communicate often around the topics above, evaluation becomes a win-win for both. If your evaluator is not proactive in contacting you, you need to be proactive to keep communications flowing.

Tip: “Good advice is not often served in our favorite flavor.” Tim Fargo

An evaluator’s role is to see you better than you can see yourself. Let your evaluator know that you appreciate both accolades and guidance for improvement.

Webinar: Right-sizing Evaluation for ATE Small Grants

Posted on March 19, 2014 by , , , in Webinars ()

Presenter(s): Dennis Faber, Elaine Craft, Krystin Martens, Lori Wingate
Date(s): March 19, 2014
Time: 1:00 PM
Recording: http://youtu.be/d1RSjXF93Y0

When developing evaluation plans for NSF ATE projects, one size doesn’t fit all. How can meaningful evaluation plans be developed for “Small Grants for Institutions New to ATE” or other small-budget grant proposals?  Small budgets create unique challenges in identifying impact and effectiveness of grant-funded work. Staff from EvaluATE and the Mentor-Connect Project will provide information on approaches and strategies to plan and implement effective evaluations of smaller projects, including budget considerations for implementing these evaluation approaches.

Resources:
Slide PDF
Handout PDF

Webinar: ATE Evaluation 101 (2013)

Posted on September 18, 2013 by , , , in Webinars ()

Presenter(s): Elaine Craft, Krystin Martens, Lori Wingate, Rachael Bower
Date(s): September 18, 2013
Recording: http://youtu.be/0hbD2XYwGAg

In this webinar, participants will learn about the role of evaluation in ATE projects and get practical guidance on administrative/managerial aspects of evaluation. Evaluation may be foreign territory for those new to grant funding, so this webinar is intended to provide new ATE PIs and project staff with the information they need to get their evaluations off on the right track. EvaluATE’s director, Lori Wingate, will cover the basics of ATE evaluation, especially its main purposes and uses (including to whom and how to report findings). ATE veteran Elaine Craft will focus on project management-related issues around evaluation, with emphasis on working with college faculty and administrators (especially the “data people”) and developing explicit plans and agreements with external evaluators. Rachael Bower of ATE Central will acquaint participants with helpful resources for developing and implementing strategies for outreach, dissemination, and sustainability.

Resources:
Slide PDF
Handout PDF

Webinar: ATE Evaluation 101 (2012)

Posted on September 19, 2012 by , , , in Webinars ()

Presenter(s): Elaine Craft, Jason Burkhardt, Lori Wingate, Melissa Miller
Date(s): September 19, 2012
Time: 1:00 pm ET
Recording: https://vimeo.com/51695179

In this webinar, participants will learn about the role of evaluation in ATE projects and get practical guidance on administrative/managerial aspects of evaluation. Evaluation may be foreign territory for those new to grant funding, so this webinar is intended to provide new ATE PIs and project staff with the information they need to get their evaluations off on the right track. The first part of the webinar, led by EvaluATE’s PI Lori Wingate, will cover the basics of ATE evaluation, especially its main purposes and uses (including to whom and how to report findings). In the second part of the webinar Elaine Craft, PI for the ATE-funded SCATE Center and the new Mentor-Connect project, will focus on project management-related issues around evaluation, with emphasis on working with college faculty and administrators (especially the “data people”) and developing explicit plans and agreements with external evaluators.  Elaine will review and share her pre-evaluation checklist for preparing to launch an ATE project evaluation.  Melissa Miller, Director of Institutional Planning and Research at Florence-Darlington Technical College, will share tips on accessing institutional data for evaluation.
Webinar participations will:
– understand the different purposes evaluation serves for ATE grants
– know when and where evaluation results should be reported
– be able to identify stakeholders at home and partner institutions who need to be involved in evaluation
– know what key decisions need to be made in consultation with the external evaluator at the start of a project
– be able to communicate needs for institutional data

Resources:
Slide PDF
Handout PDF
Mentor Connect: Principal Investigator “To-Do” Checklist: Before Launching Your Project Evaluation

Webinar: Getting Started with Your ATE Evaluation

Posted on November 17, 2010 by , , , in Webinars ()

Presenter(s): Elaine Craft, Lori Wingate, Peggie Weeks, Stephanie Evergreen
Date(s): November 17, 2010
Recording: https://vimeo.com/16973416

Congratulations on your new ATE grant! This webinar will give you the information and resources you need to get your evaluation started off on the right track.  We’ll cover issues like what should be included in your working agreement with your evaluator, how to integrate internal and external evaluations, obtaining human subjects research approvals, and what should be included in evaluation reports and who should receive them. Elaine Craft, PI for the ATE-funded SCATE Center, will serve as discussant, sharing her experiences and suggestions for developing an effective PI-evaluator working relationship.

Resources:
Slide PDF
Handout PDF