Are you an eval student or new evaluator?


#1

Hello Students and New Evaluators!

If you are currently a student (or new evaluator), post here about some of the key lessons you’ve learned recently and what you would like to learn in the near future.

Key Lessons Learned Recently:

  • Getting stakeholder engagement in collaborative evaluations. It’s not easy to get or maintain (or maybe that’s just been my experience).
  • Always add plenty of time for deliverables and evaluation phases in case things go a little sideways
  • Don’t promise more than you can realistically give.

Things I would Like to learn in the near future:

  • I would really like to learn about ways others bring theory to practice because I am curious about how others put theory into play when they practice.
  • I would like to learn more about bridging the gap between assessment and evaluation.
  • I would like to learn more about qualitative methods that are used less frequently in evaluation contexts.

#2

Thank you @jrmolle2; what is ypur name though?

I am sort of new to evaluation, i have long experience in the field of Monitoring mainly. Evaluation was always in my title, but was done through external evaluators, only under our supervision and follow up.
Lessons learned in Evaluation:

  • when working as a team, make the roles of each one clear.
  • Request to meet decision makers / management of the project you evaluate. The evaluation will never be taken seriously if the management is not involved

Things I would like to learn:

  • Impact evaluation
  • Qualitative data analysis
  • How to decide on the evaluation I am applying to, when several evaluation options are available

Thanks


#3

That lesson definitely rings true to me! Better to under-promise and over-deliver than over-promise and under-deliver :slight_smile:


#4

I’ve been in eval for a couple of years, but I consider that to still be new in the grand scale of things. One key lesson I’ve learned (or re-learned) recently as an external evaluator: I bring some eval expertise; stakeholders and clients bring the content expertise. Both are needed for a useful evaluation and discussing this during stakeholder engagement can help to clarify roles.
edit: I just saw that this is similar to what @Hayat.Askar’s posted earlier. Glad to see others share this as a valuable lesson too!

Something I would like to learn: how to better manage and adapt evaluation timelines throughout a project.


#5

Exactly!!! It’s a brutal lesson to learn!


#6

Evaluation timelines can definitely be tough to deal with. I have heard that if you think something will take a week, give yourself two weeks. Have you tried project management software or gantt charts to create manipulable and visual timelines? I have found that helpful, especially when there are a lot of moving parts present.


#7

My name is JR lol…pretty plain.

I have often seen confusing between monitoring and evaluation but agree that they are definitely two different things (related, but different).

Your lessons learned are so true!

I share the things you would like to learn as well, particularly the qualitative data analysis. There are just so many type of methods out there and I’m not clear on applying analyses to some of the less common qualitative data collection methods, but feel comfortable with document/content analysis and interviews/focus groups. I don’t know how to approach things like video, photos, etc. It’s definitely a fascinating area where there is a lot to learn.


#8

Great suggestions, thanks! I’ve found gantt charts and Trello to both be very helpful. I think I mostly get hung up on estimating time needed for eval activities (how long to design that survey? then to collect data? then analyze and make pretty graphs?). But maybe this comes with further experience.


#9

I’ve been in the field for a while, but I wanted to add my insights into @jrmolle2’s lesson learned in adding additional time for deliverables and evaluation phases.

A few months ago, I found myself having to explain to a prospective client my timeline for their evaluation needs. I’ve done enough evaluation projects now to know that, as JR mentioned, that timelines can often shift for a variety of reasons, and clients need to be flexible on that.

For many, their budget/bottom line can be more important in conducting an evaluation that can yield results they can actually use. I find that, when I see myself going back and forth with a prospective client on timeline, they may not be the client for me. It’s better to have a time buffer built in at the beginning than to request additional time well into the proiect, when the client may not be as flexible.


#10

Some times it is hard to add a buffer for the timeline, specialy where the client defines the time needed for evaluation. I have noticed recently that most clients put a very limited timeline for the evaluation, as if it is a deliverable they want to have done, giving the quality less priority.


#11

I have noticed that happening in some projects as well. It is concerning. I admit in some cases, I let it go not really knowing how to deal with it. However, in other cases, I have inquired about why the timeline is so set and stone and this has helped with understanding the evaluation purpose and context.


#12

I think it just comes with experience. If possible, over guesstimate or poll other evaluators about the steps they took for each of those areas and how long it took them. Don’t be shy about asking what barriers (and facilitators) they encountered along the way. As a newer evaluator, I would definitely give myself more time than I think I need for each of those areas to ensure I do it right and very well. Being rushed is always terrible (unless you’re one of those people that can generate a masterpiece when under an insane deadline).