I’m an evaluator.

I want to know if something makes a difference; if the change is for the better; if it has value, merit, worth.

After all, the root of evaluation is value.

I haven’t answered individually the numerous comments that have been posted.  I just continue to write and see what happens.  I’m hoping that some of what I’ve said over the past now over three years has 1) made sense; 2) made a difference; and 3) been worthwhile.  I also hope you reader have been able to use some of what you have read here.  I don’t know.

Someone is keeping track of my analytic measures; that’s wonderful.  Some blogs use that as a measure of making a difference; I don’t.  I look at what people say.  I read every comment even if I don’t respond.  A lot of folks say that the information has been interesting; that the blog is well written; that I should continue.  No one says how they use the material, or, for that matter, if they do.  So, reader, I have a challenge:

Post a comment about how you have used the information you have read here.  Post it next week when I won’t be blogging (see last week).  Let me know.  I’ll summarize the responses when I get back.  I won’t do this for very long–two, maybe three weeks; a month at most.  (When I posted previously a link to a quick on-line survey, I kept the survey open for only two weeks; not long enough for some folks.)


Other blog writers get comments not dissimilar to mine (I read a lot of blogs for ideas).  I don’t see that folks are actually giving the writer specific information on what difference the blog has made in the lives of the reader.  I must confess, I don’t let them know either.  So since this is a new year, and everyone is trying new behaviors, the new behavior I’m asking for here is Tell me what difference this blog has made/is making.

On January 22, 23, and 24, a group of would be evaluators will gather in Tucson, AZ at the Westin La Paloma Resort.

Even though Oregon State is a co-sponsor for this program, being in Oregon in winter (i.e., now) is not the land of sunshine, and since Vitamin D is critical for everyone’s well being, I chose Tucson for our capstone event.  Our able support person, Gretchen, chose  the La Paloma, a wonderful site on the north side of Tucson.  So even if it is not warm, it will be sunny.  Why, we might even get to go swimming; if not swimming,  certainly hiking.  There are a lot of places to hike around Tucson…in Sabino Canyon ; near/around A Mountain (first year U of A students get to whitewash or paint the A)  ; Saguaro National Park ; or maybe in one of the five (yes, five) mountain ranges surrounding Tucson.  (If you are interested in other hikes, look here.)

We will be meeting Tuesday afternoon, all day Wednesday, and Thursday morning.  Participants have spent the past 17 months participating in and learning about evaluation.  They have identified a project/program (either big P or little p), and they participated in a series of modules, webinars, and office hours on topics used everyday in evaluating a project or program.We anticipate over 20 attendees from the cohorts.  We have participants from five Extension program areas (Nutrition, Agriculture, Natural Resources, Family and Community Science, and 4-H), from ten western states (Oregon, Washington, California, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, and Hawaii.), and all levels of familiarity with evaluation (beginner to expert).

I’m the evaluation specialist in charge of the program content (big P) and Jim Lindstrom (formerly of Washington State, currently University of Idaho) has been the professional development and technical specialist, and Gretchen Cuevas (OSU) has been our wonderful support person.  I’m using Patton’s Developmental Evaluation Model to evaluate this program.  Although some things were set at the beginning of the program (the topics for the modules and webinars, for example), other things were changed depending on feedback (readings, office hours). Although we expect that participants will grow their knowledge of evaluation, we do not know what specific and measurable outcomes will result (hence, developmental). We hope to run the program (available to Extension faculty in the Western Region) again in September 2013.  Our goal is to build evaluation capacity in the Western Extension Region.  Did we?