Program evaluation as a field sits between the worlds of research and program management. Program evaluation differs from research because of the intended end goal. Program evaluation’s end goal is to create findings useable for stakeholder groups in order to improve implementation and effectiveness. In contrast, the end goal of research is to test hypotheses and identify generalizable findings in order to share in peer-reviewed publications. Program evaluation differs from program management by the level of investment in the program’s outcomes. Program evaluation is invested in identifying and sharing insights in as unbiased way as possible. Program management is invested in producing and perpetuating strong program outcomes.
Finding the right evaluator is an important step in doing any type of evaluation. Whether your reasons for doing an evaluation are prompted by an external requirement of a funder, by your board of directors, or by your own internal need to understand the effectiveness of a program, working with someone who you can trust and feel comfortable with makes all the difference.
We encourage you to learn more about the exciting field of program evaluation. Here are some ways to do so.
Visit Professional Evaluator Association Websites
The Michigan Association for Evaluation is a statewide organization of evaluators and users of evaluation services. MAE sponsors professional development seminars, an annual conference, and a web site full of evaluation contacts and resources.
The American Evaluation Association (AEA) and the Canadian Evaluation Society (CES) are national membership organizations of professional evaluators involved in studying and conducting program evaluation. The organizations support professional development activities and standards of ethical and professional practices in the field of program evaluation.
International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE) is an international organization of program evaluation associations around the globe.
Talk to Experts
The American Evaluation Association supports EvalTalk, a worldwide listserv that includes over 1,000 professional evaluators and users of evaluation services. Anyone can access EvalTalk to ask questions and discuss issues related to program evaluation. Click here for the webpage to subscribe to the listserv.
BetterEvaluation.org is an interactive website – a type of Wikipedia for program evaluation – that archives a large body of knowledge about program evaluation. Users can read, discuss, and post information that is available for public access worldwide.
EvaluationLive!® is a practice framework that helps evaluators and evaluation users get the most from their evaluation resources. EvaluationLive!® can be used to make sure that the evaluation team is right, to help program staff understand their roles in the evaluation process, and to negotiate the relationship between the evaluation team and program staff to maximize engagement and learning. EvaluationLive!® is a product of SPEC Associates. With the aim of improving engagement with program evaluation worldwide, EvaluationLive!® materials may be copied and shared with proper attribution to SPEC Associates.