Cheryl Poth

Spring

Toward an Evidence-Based Approach to Building Evaluation Capacity

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Abstract: Organizations are required to evaluate their programs for both learning and accountability purposes, which has increased the need to build their internal evaluation capacity. A remaining challenge is access to tools that lead to valid evidence supporting internal capacity development. The authors share practical insights from the development and use of the Evaluation Capacity Needs Assessment tool and framework and implications for using its data to make concrete decisions within Canadian contexts. The article refers to validity evidence generated from factor analyses and structural equation modelling and describes how applying the framework can be used to identify individual and organizational evaluation capacity strengths and gaps, concluding with practice considerations and future directions for this work.

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Special Issue

Influential Mentoring Practices for Navigating Challenges and Optimizing Learning During an Evaluation Internship Experience

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Pages:
374-396

The increased complexity of contexts that Canadian evaluators work in has important implications for evaluation education. Internship is a valued training component, yet what remains to be identified are empirically based quality indicators of the experience. Analyses of interviews with an intern, mentor, and coordinator supplemented by field notes revealed key features suggesting three influential mentoring practices: orientation to workplace context, autonomy of supervisory approach, and planning for evaluation agility. Implications for evaluation practice and evaluator induction are discussed in light of the Competencies for Canadian Evaluation Practice and three areas influenced by Dr. Lyn Shulha.

Introduction - Setting the Evaluation Use Context

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Pages:
275-383

Introduction. This special issue honours Dr. Lyn Shulha’s 25-year contributions to the Canadian field of program evaluation by bringing together the perspectives of authors from across North America to identify Dr. Shulha’s influence on their thinking and evaluation practices. Dr. Shulha’s scholarship is best described as a nonlinear influence because the effect of her work on evaluators’ thinking about collaboration, use, standards, and innovation cannot be directly traced.

Fall

Evaluating System Change Initiatives: Advancing the Need for Adapting Evaluation Practices

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Pages:
242-252

This article describes key challenges experienced and addressed during the evaluation of the Government of Alberta's 10-Year Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Strategic Plan (2007–2017). The purpose was to understand how the strategic plan was progressing toward outcomes at the fifth year of its implementation. Following a description of the system change initiative and evaluation context, an account of key challenges for one outcome is presented, including attempts to address and the effects on the evaluation. The implications for evaluation practice focused on encouraging evaluation participation and enhancing usefulness of data highlight the need for infrastructure to support evaluation of system change initiatives.

Spring

Toward a Definition of Evaluation Within the Canadian Context: Who Knew This Would Be So Difficult?

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Pages:
87-103

This article describes the systematic examination and membership consultation process undertaken to define evaluation within the Canadian context. To that end, the article (a) presents the findings from a literature scan and analysis of social media postings, (b) considers the outcomes of the audience discussion during the presentation at the 2013 Canadian Evaluation Society conference, and (c) off ers ideas for next steps. Together, the literature scan results, social media analysis, and membership discussion reveal that no single definition currently exists. Further, there are indications that a shared definition would be difficult to achieve within the Canadian evaluation community. Among the potential implications discussed is that a single definition might restrict or oversimplify the current scope of practice, given the wide range of contexts and purposes for evaluation in Canada.