Evaluation 2018: Speaking Truth to Power

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Power in Internal Evaluation: The evaluators’ responsibilities to staff, programs, and external evaluators

Session Number: IE2
Track: Internal Evaluation
Session Type: TIG Multipaper
Session Chair: Boris Volkov [Director of Monitoring & Evaluation, Clinical and Translational Science Institute - University of Minnesota]
Presenter 1: Jessica E Britt [Research & Evaluation Manager - Year Up]
Presenter 2: Jennifer Wenner [Program Evaluation Specialist - High Jump]
Presenter 3: Boris Volkov [Director of Monitoring & Evaluation, Clinical and Translational Science Institute - University of Minnesota]
Presentation 1 Additional Author: Jackson Young [Research & Evaluation Specialist]
Presentation 1 Additional Author: Garrett Yursza Warfield [Director of Evaluation - Year Up]
Presentation 2 Additional Author: Katy Dobbins [Evaluation Strategist - Hansra Consulting and Advisory Services]
Time: Nov 01, 2018 (08:00 AM - 09:00 AM)
Room: CC - 23

Abstract 1 Title: Data is Powerful, and With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility – walking the fine line between getting program staff excited about data, without jumping to conclusions
Presentation Abstract 1: Year Up aims to close the “opportunity divide” between millions of low-income young adults and career opportunities across the U.S. Year Up’s internal research and evaluation team has made significant headway in developing efficient, scalable organization-wide evaluation techniques that generate actionable results for many stakeholders, but we’ve learned that getting our work out there and getting people excited about it is just the first step.  The harder, next step, is simultaneously getting people to use data to drive decisions while not jumping to and running with flawed conclusions  We’ll share cases where we’ve seen a misuse of the power of data, steps taken to mitigate it, and resources we have developed that you can bring back to your work. Resources include a “Data Learning Pathway” that explicitly lays out required data competencies and trainings for roles across the org; and templates for simulation trainings designed to improve data-driven decision-making.
Abstract 2 Title: Navigating Power Dynamics in Internal-External Evaluation Partnerships
Presentation Abstract 2: The research and evaluation partnerships literature outlines a variety of characteristics that make partnerships “successful”. Characteristics include diversity of knowledge, trust, respect, shared vision, communication, and proper resources, among many others (Stokols, Misra, Moser, Hall, & Taylor, 2008). When characteristics are identified in the literature the contexts vary but rarely include or consider aspects of an evaluation partnership between external evaluation teams and internal evaluation teams. This dynamic is unique, as internal evaluation teams provide organizations a greater capacity to contribute to evaluations, creating unique power dynamics among partners. Careful navigation of power distributions is required to ensure productivity of the partnership. In this paper, we outline the ways partnership characteristics described in the literature apply to the internal-external evaluation partnership, focusing on the strategies that can be used by both internal and external evaluation teams to navigate the unique power dynamic that emerges within this partnership context.
Abstract 3 Title: Practical Aspects of Power and Empowerment in Internal Evaluation
Presentation Abstract 3: This presentation discusses the aspects of power and empowerment of internal evaluation and evaluators – the power determined by the personal characteristics of the evaluators and the internal and external organizational context. Capitalizing on the ideas of Barkdoll and Sonnichsen (2000), the presenter highlights the importance of understanding, leveraging, and promoting evaluators’ power. Examples of the key power aspects include: Accountability Power, Connecting Power, Change Agent Power, Decision-Making Support Power, Expert Power, Information Power, Personal Power. Some of the evaluator’s powers are both strengths and liability, and they must be managed judiciously. This presentation is expected to be of interest to diverse audiences including monitoring and evaluation specialists, evaluation theorists and educators, evaluation capacity building practitioners, and other audiences interested in optimizing evaluation processes and impact.
Audience Level: None

Session Abstract (150 words):  Power in Internal Evaluation: The evaluators’ responsibilities to staff, programs, and external evaluators

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