Thursday, November 12, 2009

AEA 2009 Orlando FL Day 2 - Morning

I began the day not at the plenary session (sorry, just couldn't get going early enough after visiting with friends the night before and a 3 hour jetlag in full force!) but at a workshop with James Altschuld from The Ohio State University (why is it so important to include the The?) whom I remembered from last year in Denver as being a particularly engaging and thoughtful speaker.

I was pleased to discover that was the case again today and we dove into a great discussion of

Setting Those Needs-Based Priorities

Abstract: Many evaluators, while familiar with what needs are and procedures for assessing them, are much less knowledgeable about ways to formally establish priorities in situations where many needs exist. This short workshop will begin with questions asked of participants as to how they work with organizations to select priority needs. From that starting point a short overview will be given of criteria commonly used to prioritize needs (importance, feasibility, risk factors, etc.) and methods (weighting criteria, screening needs candidates, variations of rank ordering techniques, and so forth) employed. Participants will apply some of the methods on typical scenarios that might occur in needs assessments. The workshop concludes with a group discussion of perceptions of the prioritizing process and what might work best in different settings and why it is important to fully consider the nature of how final needs are chosen.

No Google doc of notes as his slides were very text heavy and I want to digest their content when I receive them later. The terms 'needs' and 'needs assessment' are tossed around a lot though and it is helpful to keep in mind for the context of evaluation that need is defined as the measurable discrepancy between what is and what should be, not about projecting solutions as part of them but using verbs (desired, likely to occur, etc) to describe them. Needs assessment is a systematic way of setting and making decisions about needs-based priorities. (both terms Witkin & Altschuld, 1995)

As a medical librarian, I briefly wondered what (if any) needs assessment work was done regarding the new PubMed layout.... but I won't get into that here!

Next up was a deviation from the title and abstract that made for a great presentation and discussion with the group. The deviation? There Is No Checklist :) The title is also a link to the Google doc of my notes.

Establishing Effective Relationships: Presentation of a New Checklist to Help Evaluators Understand and Work With Diverse Clients
with Gary Mikron and Nakia James, Western Michigan University

Abstract: This skill-building session will introduce a new checklist that is designed to help evaluators establish relationships and work effectively with their clients. Broadly speaking, the checklist covers a list of issues and common obstacles that evaluators face when working with diverse clients. Checkpoints will highlight strategies and practices that will help ensure effective relationships are built and maintained. The checklist draws upon three key sources of information: (i) relevant literature, (iii) interviews with experienced evaluators and program officers that oversee evaluation contracts, and (ii) the national and international experience of the presenters. While the checklist is intended to be concise and provide only prompts for evaluators, the presentation and paper will allow a more in-depth description of the do's and don'ts when it comes to working with evaluation clients.


Alison said...

Always include the "The" and say it like you mean it ;)