(02) Making it Real: Systems Approaches for Evaluation Practice

Session Number: 02
Track: Professional Development Workshops
Session Type: Professional Development Workshops
Workshop Lead Presenter: Janice Noga [Owner - Pathfinder Evaluation and Consulting]
Time: Nov 06, 2017 (09:00 AM - 04:00 PM)
Room: Harding

Theme: Learning to Enhance Evaluation
Audience Level: Beginner
Learning Outcomes (PD Workshops): On DAY 1, attendees will learn: (1) the core systems concepts – boundaries, perspectives, interrelationships – that are foundational to systems approaches and how they relate to evaluation practice; and (2) strategies for using these concepts by practicing with structured, hands-on activities.
On DAY 2, attendees will learn: (1): different techniques and approaches from the system sciences field that can be used in program evaluation to (a) deepen contextual understanding of the program, (b) clarify program theory and program logic, (c) elicit pertinent evaluation questions, and (d) expand stakeholder/client understanding of programs and their potential outcomes; and (2) how to apply these techniques and approaches to (a) understand a program’s theory, purpose, and logic, (b) address complexity when evaluating programs, and (c) surface perspectives and address issues of power.
Facilitation Experience (PD Workshops): Mary McEathron, PhD, Executive Director of Rainbow Research, received her doctorate in evaluation studies at the University of Minnesota. Dr. McEathron has extensive training and over 15 years of experience in evaluation design and methods. Her research interests focus on systems approaches in evaluation and evaluation’s role in bridging academic and applied worlds. She has taught evaluation courses at colleges and universities in Minnesota and numerous professional development workshops at state and national conferences. Dr. McEathron is a past co-program chair for the American Evaluation Association’s Systems Thinking in Evaluation Topical Interest Group; certified professional in Human Systems Dynamics (http://www.hsdinstitute.org/); and has completed practitioner classes in Sense-Making and Cynefin Framework with Cognitive Edge (http://cognitive-edge.com/training/). She and Jan Noga have co-taught four previous professional development workshops on systems thinking at AEA.

Jan Noga, MEd, is the owner of Pathfinder Evaluation and Consulting, which provides consulting, evaluation, and assessment services in education and the human services. She holds a degree from Stanford University in developmental and counseling psychology. She also holds a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati in instructional design and technology and pursued doctoral study in human development and social policy at Cornell University. As a program evaluator, Ms Noga has planned and conducted both large and small-scale evaluations and provided organizational consulting and capacity building support to clients in areas such as logic modeling, performance measurement, evaluation design and implementation, and systems-based evaluation. Ms Noga has been active in AEA for 15 years. She served as program co-chair, and then chair, of the Systems in Evaluation TIG from its inception until December of 2012. Ms Noga is a frequent presenter at the annual meetings of AEA and the American Educational Research Association. She and Mary McEathron have co-taught four previous professional development workshops at AEA.

Session Abstract (150 words): 

The discussion and use of systems concepts in evaluation practice has increased dramatically in the last few years. As much as we might intuitively understand that we live in an inter-connected world, it can be challenging for evaluators to know how to skillfully apply these concepts in an evaluation. This two-day workshop provides an opportunity to learn the basic concepts of systems thinking and explore practical ways to apply these concepts to evaluation practice. This highly interactive workshop includes in-depth small group work to provide a solid foundation for continued practice after the workshop. Participants will find many of the techniques and tools used during the workshop useful in working with evaluation clients and stakeholders to help them understand and appreciate a systems approach.