Newsletter - July 2011

10 Helpful Hints and 10 Fatal Flaws: Writing Better Evaluation Sections in your Proposals

Posted on April 6, 2020 by  in Resources ()

What should be included in an ATE proposal’s evaluation plan? What do reviewers want to see?  While both of these are important questions, it is also important to make sure you have an evaluation plan in place from the beginning that will provide good information about how well your project is going and what impact you are having. Based on my experiences as a reviewer and participant in many panels, I recommend you consider these things when preparing the evaluation section of your ATE proposal.

A good evaluation plan almost always raises the proposal ratings.

10 Helpful Hints

  1. Identify an evaluator in advance; include his or her name and qualifications.
  2. Carefully match the evaluation with project goals, objectives, and activities
  3. Design the evaluation to provide evidence about what is working and where
    adjustments and improvements are needed. Make sure evaluation information
    is useful and important and describe how it will guide the project.
  4. Remember that while accountability is important, evaluation of impact and
    effectiveness is vital.
  5. Evaluate both short‐ and long‐term goals, develop indicators to use to measure
    progress, and create timelines.
  6. Develop the evaluation plan jointly with the evaluator(s). You know the project,
    but the evaluator provides evaluation expertise and an outside perspective.
    Your evaluator can help you translate your goals and objectives into measurable
    questions.
  7. Assign responsibilities for various components of the evaluation. Where and
    how will you get the data and from whom?
  8. Use the evaluation literature (e.g., EvaluATE website and NSF resources) to
    create an evaluation plan based on best practices and include evaluation
    references and, if appropriate, information about your instruments.
  9. Develop indicators for project goals and objectives with your evaluation
    stakeholders in mind (e.g., project personnel, administrators at the college,
    faculty, NSF, and others).
  10. Use at least 1 (up to 2.5) of 15 proposal pages to develop and explain the
    evaluation. Write the evaluation plan in plain English.

10 Fatal Flaws

While the helpful hints will help you write better evaluation sections, many
proposals often have fatal or near fatal flaws. Among these are:

  1. Is missing.
  2. States “after we get the funding, we will develop an evaluation plan” or that the
    evaluation will be developed using the NSF User Friendly Guide to Project
    Evaluation.
  3. Only evaluates easy things (e.g., attitudes).
  4. Has an unreasonable or unrealistic budget (e.g., a complex plan with a tiny
    budget or vice versa) and fails to explain how costs were estimated.
  5. Does not align with the priorities of the funding program.
  6. States PIs will do all the evaluation.
  7. Is too short and lacking in details.
  8. Was cut and pasted from another proposal with few changes to make it
    relevant.
  9. Uses too much jargon for reviewers to easily read or understand; is too complex.
  10. States that the evaluation will be done using “name your favorite evaluation
    method,” but fails to explain this method or why it is appropriate.

Downloads

10 Helpful Hints and 10 Fatal Flaws: Writing Better Evaluation Sections in Your Proposals (short)

10 Helpful Hints and 10 Fatal Flaws: Writing Better Evaluation Sections in Your Proposals (expanded)