The majority of evaluation practitioners begin their career in allied fields and stumble into evaluation. As such, university offerings and evaluation professional development sessions have become increasingly popular. As the field continues to professionalize and new mentoring programs emerge, empirical work examining teaching and training in evaluation has gained traction. However, little is known about the role that opportunities such as mentoring play in evaluation training.
In this practice note two novice evaluation teachers share their findings from research conducted with students who were enrolled in a theory and practicum course in evaluation. The study focused on understanding how and in what ways students navigate between the world of theory and the world of practice. The findings from this study subsequently led to a re-envisioning of the course offerings to provide a more nuanced transition between two dichotomized conceptualizations of evaluation (theory and practice), revised syllabi, and the addition of a third course.
The terms cultural responsiveness and cultural competence have become ubiquitous in many fields of social inquiry, including in evaluation. The discourse surrounding these issues in evaluation has also increased markedly in recent years, and the terms can now be found in many RFPs and government-based evaluation descriptions. We have found that novice evaluators are able to engage culturally responsive approaches to evaluation at the conceptual level, but are unable to translate theoretical constructs into practice.