Newsletter: Using Evaluation Results to Guide Decision Making

Posted on October 1, 2014 by  in Newsletter - ()

As a PI for an ATE project or center, it is clear that working with evaluators provides key information for the success of the project. Gathering the information and synthesizing it contributes to the creation of know-ledge. Knowledge can be viewed as a valuable asset for the project and others. Some knowledge can be easily obtained from text or graphics, but other knowledge comes from experience. Tools exist to help with the management of such knowledge. In the Synergy: Research Practice Transformation (SynergyRPT) project, we used tools such as logic models, innovation attributes, and value creation worksheets to learn about and practice knowledge creation (see http://synergyrpt.org/resources-2). Recently, knowledge management software has been developed that can help organize information for projects. Some useful organizing tools include Trello, Dropbox, SharePoint, BrainKeeper, and IntelligenceBank.

One example of effective evaluation management is the Southwest Center for Microsystems Education, where the external and internal evaluators use a value creation framework as part of continuous improvement, as described in their evaluation handbook by David Hata and James Hyder (see http://bit.ly/scme-eval). This approach has proved useful and helps build understanding within the ATE community. Development of common definitions of terms has been essential to communication among interested parties. Transfer of successful assessment, knowledge creation, and evaluation outcomes continue to provide broader impact for the ATE projects.

Certainly the most important part of the evaluator and PI’s jobs is to promote a culture of sharing. Without the human desire to share knowledge and build true communities of practice, the knowledge is limited to small tweaking of a project. Along with the desire to share comes the support for strong evaluation plans and ways to disseminate findings. With that mindset, both PIs and evaluators can work with their networks to build trust and create communities of practice that are committed to sustainability and scale. In that way, lessons learned from the evaluation are not lost over time.