A conversation with Mike Qaissaunee, E-MATE’s principal investigator
Q: How did you work with your evaluator during proposal development?
A: As PI and an experienced evaluator, I wrote the initial plan and selected a longtime colleague to act as external evaluator. The proposal was funded with the understanding that we would select a new evaluator, as panelists felt the initial evaluator was too close to me (the PI) and would have difficulty being objective. We selected a new evaluator with significant experience with NSF, ATE, and community colleges. Through a number of calls and meetings, we discussed the proposal, detailed our goals and objectives, answered a number of really good questions, and identified the key things we hoped to learn. Our new evaluator was able to build on my original evaluation plan, developing a rich evaluation framework and logic model.
Q: What advice do you have for communicating an evaluation plan in a proposal?
A: As proposals are fairly short, it’s important to keep the evaluation plan brief and specific to the project, rather than boilerplate. If possible, communicate information in a table and/or graphic. Evaluation metrics and tasks can also be included in tables detailing timelines, activities, and goals and objectives.
Q: How did you integrate evaluation results from a prior project into your proposal?
A: I’ve found that the most powerful approach to including evaluation results in a proposal is a judicious mix of qualitative and quantitative data. Quantitative data demonstrates past success and capacity for future work, while qualitative results bring the proposal to life and engages readers. Evaluation results can also be used to highlight areas with limited success and new areas for investigation. I don’t shy away from addressing evaluation data as it demonstrates that the project team is learning and adapting.