The biweekly “So What?” guide highlights advice, events, and tips—mostly from the advocacy and evaluation worlds, selected by the Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program. We’re a consulting practice at the Aspen Institute that partners with foundations, nonprofit organizations, and individual funders to help them strengthen their efforts to bring about positive change in society.
High-quality qualitative evaluation
Qualitative-evaluation techniques like interviews have their place in the toolbox, but the results can be tough to summarize and communicate. We tip our hats this week to Bernadette Wright of Meaningful Evidence, who schooled us on a free visualization resource as well as tips on how to apply a very cool tool. At APEP, we’ve been “dedoose”-ing the findings from what will be a massive interview dataset. Whatever your evaluation purposes and needs, check out Better Evaluation’s awesome collection of resources.
Surveys can save lives.
The whole purpose of evaluation is to improve service, systems, and lives. All evaluation efforts may be valuable, but the consequences can vary. For example: Jason Lyall surveys in a very tough context to predict where a Taliban attack could occur. But evaluations and tests, depending on how they are used, can actually harm how institutions function. Esther Care and Alvin Vista ask for assessment to catch up with changes in education. John Fischetti asks us to think critically about the big picture on school evaluations and asks us to condemn alternative fact-based evaluations as poor proxies for accountability in classrooms and schools.