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Canadian Evaluation Society Conference – Day 2

Today is the day 2 of the Canadian Evaluation Society conference in Victoria. And, as I did yesterday, I’m using my blog as a dumping ground for my conference notes.  For my regular blog readers, again please feel free to ignore these postings and I promise to blog about zombie uprisings again soon.

Jennifer Walinga – Keynote

  • gold medal rower
  • talked about “drilling down the barrier”
  • e.g. the barrier between the Canadian team and their goal (i.e., a gold medal) was, they thought, size.  The Russians and Romanains were huge!  So the Canadians were lifting weights and trying to get bigger, but they weren’t going to get as big as their competition (and they weren’t going to use steriods to do it), so they were really just banging their heads against the “size” barrier
  • but then they refocussed – their goal was to win the gold medal and to do that, they needed to be the fastest – the barrier was speed, not size.  It opened them up to innovative techniques (like more training sessions per day and active recovery) and they did, in fact, get faster.
  • “eyes in your own boat”
  • when the Canadians started to gain on the Russians near the end of the race that Jennifer played a video clip of, the Russians started looking over at the Canadians, instead of keeping their eyes in their own boat
  • eyes in your own boat = focus
  • when you give you attention to the other time, you are giving them your focus instead of giving your focus to the task at hand

Gold Medal Standard Panel
US – John Pfeiffer

  • Obama initiative – critical of Bush & Clinton evaluation policies; challenges ahead: leadership commitment (getting goals that leaders are committed to), communication results, relentless follow-through and using (not just producing evaluations)

Canadian – Robert Lahey

  • used the Olympic mascots to represent different evaluation concepts and illustrated a timeline of Olympics & evaluation history in Canada. It was awesome!
  • features of the “Canadian model”:
    • an emphasis on both monitoring & evaluation
    • mid90s – monitoring was introduced federally because they saw a need for monitoring and reporting to Parlimentarians – but recognizing that we also still need evaluation (e.g., describe what’s going on, attribution, etc.)
    • central leadership – Treasury Board policy
    • a well-defined foundation setting the rules and expectations for evaluation – policy, standards & guidelines
    • checks & balances to support the “independence/neutrality” of the internal evaluation units
    • oversight mechanism for credibility/quality control
    • flexibility – willingness to learn/adjust. Not one size fits all
    • “transparency” as an underlying value in the system
    • an ongoing commitment to capacity development
    • credentialing- a unique element in Canada
  • we need an “enabling environment”
    • technical factors (e.g., trained evaluators, data)
    • cultural factors (e.g., political will to allow/support evaluation; transparency; public disclosure; objectivity/neutrality in measuring & reporting)
    • sustained commitment
  • can’t just define “success” as the “number of gold medals won” (think of all the other things we gained from the Olympics – culturally, etc.)
  • we can’t let our “performance stories” get dumbed down, but also don’t want to deliver a “brick” of a report that no one ever reads
  • a supply of good evaluations is not enough
    • we need results to be used
    • think about your audience and how they’ll use the results
    • orient the “evaluation users” to evaluation
  • “monitoring and evaluation capacity building is a marathon, not a sprint”

Professional Designations Program (PDP)

  • two sessions on this – one on the background info/underlying philosophy and one on logistics of applying (I’ve combined my notes into this one section)most current practitioners in evaluation have little or no formal education in evaluation (since it didn’t exist) – different than US context
  • we don’t have academic programs in evaluation – this is now changing with the Consortium of Universities in Evaluation Education (CUEE)
  • we needed to be able to ensure educational/training opportunities in evaluation will be available in order to have credentialing (as credentialed evaluators (CEs) will need continuing education to maintain their designation)
  • there was no formal parameters for what constitutes program evaluation
  • there was need for clarity for:
    • organizations to hire evaluators (either as employees or contracted/external/consultants)
    • academic institutions (and the students that pursue education in evaluation)
  • role of CES:
    • launch professional designations program
    • support the CUEE
    • support other professional development activities
  • the PDP is not perfect, but it is solid – and it will continue to evolve (and what’s appropriate today may not be appropriate in 10 years)
  • expected benefits:
    • strengthen new federal evaluation policy
    • bring clarify to provincial & non-profit initiatives related to evaluation
    • play complimentary role to CUEE
    • could better prepare evaluators to face diversity [I was unclear on what they meant by this]
  • to maintain designation, will have to be committed to professional development over the long term – this will bring value to the field of evaluation
  • do not want designation to be a barrier to entering the field of evaluation
  • the current program should allow other designations to be created (this is the first level)
  • program will be evaluated in 3 years ($ has already been set aside for it)
  • the “designation is designed to define, recognize, and promote the practice of ethical, high quality, and competent evaluation in Canada”
  • the designation means that the holder had provided evidence that they have the education and experience to be a competent evaluator
  • they did a “core body of knowledge” study
  • competencies for Canadian evaluation practice – 5 domains (which each have several competencies listed in them):
    • reflective
    • technical
    • situational
    • management
    • interpersonal
  • competencies are not static – they need to be updated and monitored
  • requirements for CE designation:
    • graduate-level degree or certificate (any field; because graduate-level education = analytical and research skills) or a Prior Learning Assessment (PLAR) (provide copy of degrees/diplomas)
    • provide copies of diplomas/degrees (or a PLAR process is done if don’t have graduate education)
    • evidence of at least 2 years of FTE of evaluation-related work experience in last 10 years (can include employment (including teaching), volunteering, practicum, etc.)
    • provide letters of reference to support all experience
    • demonstration of competencies of Cdn evaluation practice – declare your competencies under each domain and provide a narrative that aligns your experience and/or education in each domain (must achieve at least 70% of the competencies in each domain – you may provide narratives for all of them if you wish)
  • renewal of CE designation:
    • 40 hours of professional development over 3 years
  • Credentialing Board:
    • made up of CES Fellows and Award winners
    • 2 CB members will review each application – a 3rd will review if a tie-breaker is needed
  • goal of CUEE: to increase access to graduate programs/credentials in evaluation
    • portable evaluation-related coursework
    • national organization
    • both official languages
    • governed by participating universities with input from CES and Treasury Board
    • supporting 4-6 certificate programs
    • hope to develop Masters and eventually PhD level programs
    • internships – they need connections to evaluators to develop a student internship network [I spoke to Jim about participating in this]
  • logistics of getting credentialed:
    • screen cost to show you how to use the online application system
    • application guide with all the info on the website
    • demonstrating competencies
      • short narratives (150 words and 1000 character max)
      • demonstrate your understanding of the descriptors that accompany each competency (some competency have many descriptors, so you don’t need to demonstrate all descriptors (and probably couldn’t fit it in if you tried))
      • use the language of the descriptors and give specific examples of relevant experience/education
      • reflect on the content of any external documents referred to in the descriptor
      • be organized and structured in your writing (may use bullets or numbers where appropriate)
      • may use the same example more than once (but try to vary it when possible – don’t use the same example for every competency)
      • be very specific – e.g., if referring to an educational experience, give the course name, university & year (don’t need to describe entire course, but be specific about how it related to the competency); be very specific about when competency/descriptor you are referring to and exactly how your example is relevant to it
      • informal education/training counts too (e.g., CES’s Essential Skills Series or the TriCouncil Policy Online Ethics course)
      • remember, you need to demonstrate that you understand what the competencies are and show that you’ve demonstrated doing them through education and/or experience
      • just like in your evaluation work, you are using data to support findings – in this case, your “finding” is “I am competent in competency X”
      • showing relevance is as important as the actual experience/education/training
      • each narrative will be assessed as:
        • demonstrated relevance of education/experience (i.e., Yes, did meet competency)
        • further preparation needed (i.e., No, did not meet competency)
      • must achieve a “yes” in at least 70% of the competencies in each domain
    • you will get a decision within 60 days (subject to change once they see what the workload is like)
    • if you are not granted the designation, they will give you suggestions on how to improve your  application and if you are still within 36 months of the date you started your online application, you can resubmit and they will review it again for no extra cost (if it is beyond the 36 months though, you will have to pay the application fee)
    • if you are granted the designation, you need to pay your yearly maintenance fee and also upload evidence that you are meeting the professional development requirements (40 hours over three years)
    • cost: 
      • $485 to apply (good for 36 months)
      • if you need PLAR, that costs $550
      • then $50 a year to maintain (plus you have to stay a member of CES, so it’s really $215 per year (i.e. $165 for membership + $50 for the designation))
      • fees paid online like how you pay your membership fee
    • A “model” guide – evaluation capacity building

      • evaluation capacity building (ECB) is “intentional work to continuously create and sustain overall organizational processes that make quality evaluation and its use routine”
        • it’s not about “helicoptering” in to do an evaluation and then leaving
        • it’s not about just building “buy in” or even just use of evaluation results
      • one audience member brought up different models of evaluation capacity building – e.g. building capacity of people to have the skills/knowledge to conduct evaluation vs. building capacity of people to do “evaluative thinking” and being a “good consumer of evaluation”

      Maximizing Evaluation Capacity in Organizations Through the Use of Hybrid Models

      • “hybrid” in terms of using both internal and external evaluators
      • 2009 federal government evaluation policy requires 100% “coverage” of evaluation (i.e., all programs must be evaluated in some way)
      • types of internal evaluation units/people (EU):
        • Centralized EU: evaluators in a central shop
        • Decentralized EU: evaluators sit in program delivery unit, but don’t deliver programs themselves [this is what I am]
        • Embedded Program Personnel: program delivery staff who also have evaluation activities

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