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What is evaluation and why am I interested in it?

HHH PicFour years ago I entered into a degree program with a focus on policy making. My interest was largely on campaigns, politics, and determining what decisions were being made that might impact the public.  I have had experience researching and developing cases in policy debate, working in state legislature, and helping support campaigns through lobbying. In particular, I was interested in policies that impacted communities and cultural organizations. I found this work to be truly engaging, but often caught myself thinking about how much of this information is actually effectively shared with the public or whether that knowledge would have an impact on decisions made.

I have always been intrigued in the way things worked, but the decision making that is used to develop a policy that might impact a community is significant and complex.  While studying for my Master of Public Policy, I discovered that there was a field dedicated to "reality testing" programs, gathering information about how a policy or program might impact its intended audience, and determining what is or isn't working in a program, product, organization, or community or as the AEA puts it "Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness."

I have used my experiences in evaluation to learn about and engage in several different communities, and am incredibly thankful for the experiences, connections, and relationships that have developed. My hope is to use this blog to further my mission of connecting and engaging people with evaluation and the information that is found through the process.

Links around the Web:

  • If you are interested in learning about evaluation, the principles that the field follows, attending conferences, or reading more about evaluation work, check out the AEA website.
  • If you would like to know more about evaluation in Minnesota, check out the Minnesota Evaluation Association website.
  • An incredibly helpful resource that has helped further my data visualization and analysis abilities is Anne K. Emery's website.

 

Tip of the Day

When evaluating career goals, take a step back, outline your personal "mission" and develop small daily achievable and actionable steps.

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