Archive: training

Blog: Building Capacity for High-Quality Data Collection

Posted on May 13, 2020 by  in Blog (, )

Director of Evaluation, Thomas P. Miller & Associates, LLC 

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As I, like everyone else, am adjusting to working at home and practicing social distancing, I have been thinking about how to conduct my evaluation projects remotely. One thing that’s struck me as I’ve been retooling evaluation plans and data collection timelines is the need for even more evaluation capacity building around high-quality data collection for our clients. We will continue to rely on our clients to collect program data, and now that they’re working remotely too, a refresher on how to collect data well feels timely.  

Below are some tips and tricks for increasing your clients capacity to collect their own high-quality data for use in evaluation and informed decision making. 

Identify who will need to collect the data.  

Especially with multiple-site programs or programs with multiple collectors, identifying who will be responsible for data collection and ensuring that all data collectors use the same tools is key to collecting similar data across the program.  

Determine what is going to be collected.  

Examine your tool. Consider the length of the tool, the types of data being requested, and the language used in the tool itself. When creating a tool that will be used by others, be certain that your tool will yield the data that you need and will make sense to those who will be using it. Test the tool with a small group of your data collectors, if possible, before full deployment.  

Make sure data collectors know why the data is being collected.  

When those collecting data understand how the data will be used, they’re more likely to be invested in the process and more likely to collect and report their data carefully. When you emphasize the crucial role that stakeholders play in collecting data, they see the value in the time they are spending using your tools. 

Train data collectors on how to use your data collection tools.  

Walking data collectors through the step-by-step process of using your data collection tool, even if the tool is a basic intake form, will ensure that all collectors use the tool in the same way. It will also ensure they have had a chance to walk through the best way to use the tool before they actually need to implement it. Provide written instructions, too, so that they can refer to them in the future.  

Determine an appropriate schedule for when data will be reported.  

To ensure that your data reporting schedule is not overly burdensome, consider the time commitment that the data collection may entail, as well as what else the collectors have on their plates.  

 Conduct regular quality checks of what data is collected.  

Checking the data regularly allows you to employ a quality control process and promptly identify when data collectors are having issues. Catching these errors quickly will allow for easier course correction.  

Blog: Evaluation Training and Professional Development

Posted on October 7, 2015 by  in Blog ()

Doctoral Associate, EvaluATE

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Hello ATE Community!

My name is Cheryl Endres, and I am the new blog editor and doctoral associate for EvaluATE. I am a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Evaluation program at Western Michigan University. To help me begin to learn more about ATE and identify blog topics, we (EvaluATE) took a closer look at some results from the survey conducted by EvaluATE’s external evaluator. As you can see from the chart, the majority of ATE evaluators have gotten their knowledge about evaluation on the job, through self-study, and nonacademic professional development. Knowing this gives us some idea about additional resources for building your evaluation “toolkit.”

HelloATE--Graph

It may be difficult for practicing evaluators to take time for formal, graduate-level coursework.  Fortunately, there are abundant opportunities just a click away on the Internet!  Since wading through the array of options can be somewhat daunting, we have compiled a short list to get you started in your quest. As the evaluation field continues to expand, the opportunities do as well, and there are a number of online and in-person options for continuing to build your knowledge base about evaluation. Listed below are just a few to get you started:

  • The EvaluATE webinars evalu-ate.org/category/webinars/ are a great place to get started for information specific to evaluation in the ATE context.
  • The American Evaluation Association has a “Learn” tab that provides information about the Coffee Break Webinar series, eStudies, and the Summer Evaluation Institute. There are also links to online and in-person events around the country (and world) and university programs, some of which offer certificate programs in evaluation in addition to degree programs (master’s or doctoral level). The AEA annual conference in November is also a great option, offering an array of preconference workshops: eval.org
  • The Canadian Evaluation Society offers free webinars to members. The site includes archived webinars as well: evaluationcanada.ca/professional-learning
  • The Evaluators’ Institute at George Washington University offers in-person institutes in Washington, D.C. in February and July. They offer four different certificates in evaluation. Check out the schedules at tei.gwu.edu
  • EvalPartners has a number of free e-learning programs: mymande.org/elearning

These should get you started. If you find other good sources, please email me at cheryl.endres@wmich.edu.