Stepping stones: Can we use the AEA competencies to lead to positive contributions, leadership, and renewal?

Session Number: 1881
Track: Presidential Strand
Session Type: Panel
Session Chair: Jean A. King [Professor - University of Minnesota]
Discussant: Tessie Tzavaras Catsambas [CEO and CFO - EnCompass LLC]
Presenter 1: Jean A. King [Professor - University of Minnesota]
Presenter 2: Kate McKegg [Evaluator - The Kinnect Group]
Presenter 3: John LaVelle [Assistant Professor - University of Minnesota]
Time: Nov 15, 2019 (08:00 AM - 09:00 AM)
Room: CC 200DE

Abstract 1 Title: What If AEA Says No to Promoting and Using Competencies?
Presentation Abstract 1:

For over 15 years (1999-2015), the leadership of the American Evaluation Association failed to embrace the need for a set of competencies for program evaluators. This occurred despite two supporting factors: (1) the availability of a set of competencies with the 2005 publication in the American Journal of Evaluation of the Essential Competencies for Program Evaluators (Stevahn, King, Ghere, & Minnema, 2005), and (2) the spread and use of evaluator competencies in voluntary organizations for professional evaluation (VOPEs) around the world. This TEDx talk will address the question of the potential first- and second-level consequences if the largest VOPE in the world now chooses not to encourage and support the use of its recently-approved competencies. Specific topics include possible effects in three areas: the field’s developing professionalization internationally, including sources of leadership for this professionalization; the likely benefits of context-specific activities; and evaluation/evaluator education.


Abstract 2 Title: In pursuit of truth, beauty and justice: Navigating complex relations as evaluation professionals
Presentation Abstract 2:

In this session, Kate McKegg will discuss the increasing need for the field to address not just the technical and intellectual competence of evaluators. The field also desperately needs to critically unpack the much-needed relational qualities that professionals need in order to ensure that in any given evaluation situation, evaluation is legitimate, valid (truthful) compelling, coherent (beautiful) and is occurring in ways that ensure the values (justice) part is also taken care of adequately. Davidson (2014)  suggests that consensus on what is fair, valuable, and important does not just fall easily out of well-designed evaluation processes. These questions are inherently political, frequently murky, contestable, and often highly contentious. Just how professional evaluators might navigate this complexity is a question this session will address.


Abstract 3 Title: Accrediting evaluator education programs: What is taught, sought, and absolutely critical?
Presentation Abstract 3:

John LaVelle is Assistant Professor of Evaluation Studies at the University of Minnesota.  His scholarly passion is for evaluator training and socialization through formal educational programs. His scholarship has produced several directories of evaluator education programs, as well as curricular analyses, a proposed pedagogy for the teaching of evaluation, and aligning programs with job opportunities across the world. He is excited, although wary, of how evaluator competencies might be used to shape educational programs. In this TEDx Talk, he will tackle the issue of accrediting university programs, and how that might (or might not!) lead to the kinds of outcomes desired.  


Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

The professionalization of evaluation practice and evaluators as individuals is a recurring topic in the field of evaluation that evokes strong emotions among both discussants and observers.  Collectively, we find ourselves still grappling with questions about the core tenets of our professional competence; in other words, what does it mean to be an evaluation professional in 2019? The answers to this are technical, ethical, practical and relational. Our challenge is partly due to the widespread changes in the nature of professional work occurring globally and the subsequent fluidity of the boundaries between evaluation and other fields; leaving our claims of value and legitimacy in constant flux.

Building from the 2018 adoption of the AEA Evaluator Competencies, this panel will address critical issues in evaluation, and share separate --albeit related-- visions of evaluation into the future.