Some thoughts from Day 1 of the AEA conference

A couple of highlights from the opening sessions of the American Evaluation Association’s annual conference (being held this year in sunny San Antonio, Texas):

Opening plenary

Three views on evaluation quality, the theme of this year’s conference, from Eleanor Chelimsky, Laura Leviton and Michael Patton.

Eleanor argued for appreciation of three different types of evaluation,

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Where and Why Western lenses miss the mark in Africa: The case of HIV/AIDS prevention evaluations

“Given the norms that govern most patriarchal societies in Africa, should the Western epistemology, ethics and concepts be the main default lens for evaluation” “Despite their blindness to social cultural context, are these evaluations valid even though they are said to be based on scientific evidence”

A, B, and C—the ways

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Finding “the best” way

Yet another study announced which aims to find “the” best way – this time the best way to treat anorexia nervosa. As reported in The Age:

Australian researchers will conduct a world-first study to find the optimal treatment for the debilitating, and often deadly, disorder anorexia nervosa. Around one in five people, usually women, who

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Is there a need for meta-evaluation at the World Cup?

Watching games at the FIFA World Cup, I’ve wondered whether there might be a need for some transparent meta-evaluation of referee decisions. [Conflict of interest warning – Australian commentator].

Picture caption: Sent off … Brazil’s Kaka walks off as Ivory Coasts Abdelkader Keita holds his face after a push in the chest. Photo: Reuters

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A ‘program logic’ for including ‘outsiders’ in evaluation teams

Suppose you are an evaluator looking to put together a team of colleagues to bid on an evaluation of a program that primarily or exclusively targets members of your own ‘culture’ (ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, life/health/social history, profession or disciplinary roots, etc – yes, everyone is a member of several ‘cultures’). What are the various reasons for including outsiders (people from outside that culture) on your evaluation team? What is the implicit “problem” or “challenge” you would be responding to with that rationale? In what roles would outsiders be involved? How would that influence your evaluation ‘product’ (the services and the report delivered?

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