Read SPEC’s Case Briefs about What Works in Transforming Higher Education  

Through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, SPEC conducted two rapid assessment case studies aimed at understanding how colleges and universities make transformational changes to become laser focused on student success. These studies uncovered important insights that higher education administrators will find valuable in their own efforts to transform their institutions. Click here to read about what we learned at Elgin Community College. Click here to read about what we learned at Drexel University.

EvaluationLive!® SPEC's stakeholder engagement model

After almost 30 years as practicing evaluators, Melanie Hwalek and Mary Williams created a model for how to breathe life, fun and excitement into program evaluation experiences. EvaluationLive!® is a practice model that helps evaluators go beyond just doing good work to creating excitement, urgency and a hunger for learning during the evaluation experience. This, in turn, maximizes evaluation use and greater value for stakeholders. The model has been presented to practicing evaluators at the American Evaluation Association and the Canadian Evaluation Society. It’s also helped our nonprofit colleagues learn about how to make program evaluation work better for them.  Click here to view and download information about EvaluationLive!®.  


SPEC's Faster Forward Fund agent based modeling update


In December 2016, SPEC completed a grant to test the application of agent based modeling and simulation to program evaluation. This work was supported by a grant from the Faster Forward Fund, and was a collaboration between Kirk Knestis (Hezel Associates, LLC), Jonathan Morell (4.669 Evaluation and Planning), Van Parunak (Axon Connected) and Melanie Hwalek (SPEC Associates).

The test case worked with data on postsecondary transfer, persistence and completion available through the cooperation of the Arizona Board of Regents institutions, but the modeling methodology has application to a wide array of social service interventions. We produced three YouTube videos about our work. We invite you to view them by clicking on these links: part 1, part 2, and part 3. SPEC is actively seeking more partners to further this work. If you are interested in partnering with us on this research, contact Melanie Hwalek at