Benoît Gauthier

Spring

Learning Circles for Advanced Professional Development in Evaluation

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Pages:
87-96

Studies of Canadian evaluators have consistently shown them to be dissatisfied with opportunities for advanced training, suggesting a need to diversify the forms of professional development available to seasoned evaluators. This article reports on a trial implementation of an alternative learning model: learning circles for advanced professional development in evaluation. This model is grounded in approaches drawn from self-directed learning, self-improvement movements, adult and popular education, quality improvement, and professional journal clubs. Learning circles bring together experienced practitioners in structured collaborative learning cycles about topics of mutual interest. We experimented with an evaluation learning circle over several cycles, and report on what we learned about purpose, process, and outcomes for professional development. We hope that this model will be of interest to other evaluators, especially in the context of the competency maintenance requirements of the CE designation.

Spring

The Lay of the Land: Evaluation Practice in Canada in 2009

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Pages:
1-49

A group of 12 evaluation practitioners and observers takes stock of the state of program evaluation in Canada. Each contributor provides a personal viewpoint, based on his or her own experience in the field. The selection of contributors constitutes a purposive sample aimed at providing depth of view and a variety of perspectives. Each presentation highlights one strength of program evaluation practiced in Canada, one weakness, one threat, and one opportunity. It is concluded that Canadian evaluation has matured in many ways since 2003 (when a first panel scan was conducted): professional designation is a reality; the infrastructure is stronger than ever; organizations are more focused on results. Still, evaluation is weakened by lacunas in advanced education and professional development, limited resources, lack of independence, rigidity in evaluation approaches, and lack of self-assessment. While the demand for evaluation and evaluators appears on the rise, the supply of evaluators and the financial resources to conduct evaluations are not. The collective definition of the field of evaluation still lacks clarity. There is also reassurance in looking toward the future. With increased appetite for evaluation, evaluators could make a real difference, especially if evaluators adopt a more systemic view of program action to offer a global understanding of organizational effectiveness. The implementation of a Certified Evaluator designation by CES is a major opportunity to position evaluation as a more credible discipline.

Spring

Le concours de simulation: le point de vue d'un juge

Authors:
Pages:
119-126

Spring

The lay of the land: evaluation practice in Canada today

Authors:
Pages:
143-178

A group of 12 evaluation practitioners and observers takes stock of the state of program evaluation in Canada. Each of the contributors provides a personal viewpoint, based on their own experience in the field. The selection of contributors constitutes a purposive sample aimed at providing depth of view and a variety of perspectives. Each presentation highlights one strength of program evaluation practiced in Canada, one weakness, one threat, and one opportunity. It is concluded that evaluators possess skills that other professions do not offer; they are social and ecc researchers versed in using empirical data collection and analysis methods to provide a strong factual foundation for program and policy assessment. However, program evaluation has not acquired an identity of its own and, in fact, has tended to neglect key evaluation issues and to lose emphasis on rigour. Today's program evaluation environment is dominated by program monitoring, the lack of program evaluation self-identity, and insufficient connection with management needs. But evaluation is not without opportunities — resultsbased and outcome-based management, advocacy and partnership efforts, individual training and development, and bridging between program management and policy development represent some. But first, evaluators must self-define to communicate to others what their specific contribution is likely to be. The article concludes with implications for the practice of evaluation in Canada and the blueprint of a workplan for evaluators individually and collectively, in their organizations and in their professional association.

Special Issue

Evaluation practice in Canada: results of a national survey

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Pages:
1-42

This article reports on the results of a national survey that describes the professional and practice profiles of program evaluators in Canada, their views of their working conditions, and their sense of belonging to the field of evaluation. The data were collected between May and July 2005 via a Web survey, and 1,005 respondents filled out questionnaires. Among them, 647 indicated that they were internal or external evaluation producers, the others being evaluation users, students, or researchers. The results raise several issues. First, much of the evaluation work being done in Canada appears to be driven by accountability requirements, and secondarily by an appetite for program improvement or reconsideration. Second, voluntary certification, while quite widely supported, may create or encounter significant challenges in attempting to achieve professionalization goals. Third, the survey documents the need for professional training and the low levels of satisfaction with the training received to meet the requirements of evaluation positions. Finally, based on the current configuration of the population of active evaluators, on the intent of a majority of young evaluators to leave the field in the next few years, and on the training required in evaluation, the profession is not currently in a position to sustain itself through the renewal of a stable, capable, and committed workforce. Taken together, these results suggest a need for reflection and action on the future development of the profession.

Special Issue

Professional Standards for Evaluators: The Development of an Action Plan for the Canadian Evaluation Society

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Pages:
21-32

The National Council of the Canadian Evaluation Society (CES) recognized a need to designate a professional status for the practice of evaluation for individuals who meet appropriate criteria. A consortium of experienced CES members developed an Action Plan with policy options based on (a) a literature review, (b) consultations with relevant professional organizations, (c) knowledge and experience brought by consortium members, and (d) the 2005 Survey of Evaluation Practice and Issues in Canada. The Action Plan recommended three successive levels of professional designation, each with progressively more demanding criteria. Out of this plan, the CES adopted the Credentialed Evaluator designation.

View from the Credentialing Board: Where We've Been and Where We're Going

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Pages:
86-97

The Credentialing Board is a group of senior evaluators whose role is to consider the merits of each application for the Credentialed Evaluator designation and to provide input regarding the ongoing development of the program. This article recounts the four-year history of the Board, describes its processes, and analyzes its challenges. On the basis of a file review, a survey of Board members, in-depth interviews, and the authors' own experiences, it is concluded that the Board has successfully tackled its responsibility but that there is still room for improvement.

The CES Professional Designations Program: Views from Members

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Pages:
98-133

CES members were surveyed in April 2014 regarding professionalization issues and the Credentialed Evaluator (CE) program (a component of the CES Professional Designations Program). Analysis reported here is based on 654 completed questionnaires. Results suggest that members' attitudes and perceptions about the program are generally positive. Credentialed Evaluators appear to attribute improvements in their practice to the credential, and the sense of belonging to a profession is increasing. Factors other than the credentialing program may have influenced the variables of interest. The study points to some crucial challenges facing the designations program for reaching its entire intended community.