Evaluation inspiration is everywhere (on the internet)!

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But of what quality are the crocuses? Are they good enough?

I have been downright overwhelmed by the amount of GREAT evaluation related posts and resources showing up on the web lately. So much so in fact, that it seemed only appropriate to curate a few of my favorites to celebrate here. It’s not a top-anything list, or even a recap of 2013, but I hope you find these inspirational!

On learning and evaluation: I love how much discussion I’m seeing lately about framing evaluation as learning and focusing on the positive. Such as the recent post on the Evaluated Life blog, “What are you doing to help your clients learn?” This post is a rich one that got me thinking critically about my own work and the current evaluation projects I’m planning. It also integrates a number of other rich resources; it’s embedded links led me down a wonderful rabbit hole full of other great thought-provoking materials (like Preskill and Catsamba’s Reframing Evaluation Through Appreciative Inquiry now on my to-read list).

On framing evaluations: A recent post on Sheila Robinson’s blog Evaluspheric Perceptions “Ask a Brilliant Question, Get an Elegant Answer” is a strong case for seriously and carefully crafting evaluation questions. I love her three critical functions of evaluation questions: 1) They bear the load of the evaluation (they serve to set the purpose); 2) they anchor the evaluation against potentially damaging forces (by focusing or targeting the effort to be undertaken); and 3) they shield the evaluation from that which can seep in slowly and destroy it (by setting expectations).

On evaluative thinking, using rubrics in evaluation, and more: This recent Adventures in Evaluation podcast featuring E. Jane Davidson is great and the additional resources posted by Kylie Hutchinson and James Coyle provide enough information to get your evaluative thinking juices flowing (and rubrics drafted).

On data visualization & evaluation use: This guest post from Nate Wilairat (of Skopia) – “Using Visual Communication to Increase Evaluation Utilization“- on Stephanie Evergreen’s blog is an excellent introduction to approaching the reporting of results with a deep emphasis on use. I can see, and easily plan for using tools like the examples Nate shares here, particularly the annotated dashboard and matrix of findings.

And then there’s Ann Emery’s latest post, “Newish Charts for Evaluation” which is simply jam-packed with chart ideas, tips, and tricks, as usual (dot plot tutorial, anyone?).

On the impact of evaluations: This post at the Evaluation Stories blog — “Should evaluators track evaluation impacts” — makes clever use of an animated video to illustrate the difference between promoting evaluation use, and considering evaluation impact. Of course I’m jazzed about the idea of evaluating our evaluation work — the ultimate in “closing the loop.”

A nod to AEA365: I would be totally slacking off if I didn’t mention that the AEA365 blog ran a ‘best of’ series this past week as well — absolutely worth checking out.

Oh! And if you’re not following Evalcentral.com, you might be missing out on being overwhelmed just like me, so get in on the fun by subscribing or checking it regularly.

What did I miss? Surely there are other great posts I’ve not included here. There’s so much going on in the online ‘evalusphere’ (thanks for that term Sheila R.) these days, I can hardly keep on top of it. So please, point me to other posts and resources I may have missed with a note in the comments.