Week 1, Part 1: Why another new evaluation blog?

The  Carpe Diem: Make Your Evaluations Useful  team hanging out at the annual conference for the Michigan Association for Evaluation.

The Carpe Diem: Make Your Evaluations Useful team hanging out at the annual conference for the Michigan Association for Evaluation.

Why another new evaluation blog? Just what you need, right? Hopefully it is! A few years ago: you couldnt find any evaluation-related blogs or podcasts. Today there are really helpful evaluation blogs that focus on improving your visuals, incorporating statistics, bringing humor into evaluation, creating a learning culture, understanding evaluation theories, and many more. Do we really need another evaluation blog? Could it be useful to your work? Could it be useful to your clients? Usefulhmm, thats it! We want to help you stop storing your evaluation reports on the shelf, instead seizing the opportunity to use your evaluation findings in practical and meaningful ways!

This blog is intended for evaluators, program directors working to improve their outcomes, funders who want to understand how grantees could better use evaluation findings, educators and administrators wanting to be more thoughtful about the data they have access to, college students learning how to put into action the theory theyve learned in their courses, and anyone else that has a general interest in using data in practical and useful ways. The focus of this blog is going to be on evaluation use, usefulness, utility, and utilization. I hear you thinkingarent those the same things? They are similar, interwoven concepts, and we are going to explore them through this blog. We want to keep our postings conversational and accessible for allboth conductors and recipients of evaluation. At times we will need to get a tad theoretical to help lay some groundwork for understanding evaluation use and usefulness. However, even while doing that, we will continue to focus on the practical application of that shared knowledge.

Below are a few questions we will address in this blog. Were open to ideas and questions from you, too. Obviously your involvement in this blog will make it more useful to you!

  • How can I use evaluation findings for program improvement?
  • What do I do with the results from poorly constructed/implemented evaluations?
  • What is the impact of evaluator qualifications on my use of evaluation findings?
  • How do I ensure my evaluation is useful and utilized?
  • What questions should I ask my evaluator to help me practically apply any evaluation findings?
  • What should I expect in a good evaluation report?

USEFUL TIP: Well tell you a little about ourselves starting tomorrow, and you can try guessing who we are based on the picture for today (hint: we were recently all at the Michigan Association for Evaluation conference together). Tomorrow, well begin inundating you with CARPE DIEM: MAKE YOUR EVALUATIONS USEFUL for the rest of the week, then continue to post on a weekly basis after that.