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Being an Evaluator: Your Practical Guide to Evaluation

by Donna R Podems Guilford Publications
Pub Date:
Pbk 368 pages
AU$88.00 NZ$89.57
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Demystifying the evaluation journey, this is the first evaluation mentoring book that addresses the choices, roles, and challenges that evaluators must navigate in the real world. Experienced evaluator and trainer Donna R. Podems covers both conceptual and technical aspects of practice in a friendly, conversational style. She focuses not just on how to do evaluations but how to think like an evaluator, fostering reflective, ethical, and culturally sensitive practice. Extensive case examples illustrate the process of conceptualizing and implementing an evaluation--clarifying interventions, identifying beneficiaries, gathering data, discussing results, valuing, and developing recommendations. The differences (and connections) between research, evaluation, and monitoring are explored. Handy icons identify instructive features including self-study exercises, group activities, clarifying questions, facilitation and negotiation techniques, insider tips, advice, and resources.

I. Doing Evaluation and Thinking Evaluatively
1. Speaking the Language
2. The Tale of the Researcher and Evaluator
3. Starting the Evaluative Journey
4. How We Know What We Know and Why We Think That
5. Data and Credibility: What Inquiring Evaluator Minds Need to Know
6. Linking Problem Statements, Interventions, and Results
7. All about Results
8. Talking Intervention Theory (and Logic)
9. Assessing and Evaluating Progress
10. Completing the Evaluation Journey: Pulling It All Together
II. Working as an Evaluator and Exploring Evaluation
11. The Personal Choices of Being an Evaluator
12. Thinking about Values
13. Thinking about Power, Politics, Culture, Language, and Context
14. The Scholarly Side of Being an Evaluator
15. Navigating the Maze of Evaluation Choices
16. The World of Recommendations
17. The Dirty Laundry Chapter

"This book's accessibility gives it a major advantage over many program evaluation texts, which tend to be dry and dense. For students new to program evaluation, readability is a major factor in comprehension, and will make them more likely to read the assigned chapters. The 'call-outs' with icons break up the text and add value to our understanding of evaluation by providing examples and exercises that bring the concepts, theories, and techniques to life."--John Klemanski, PhD, Department of Political Science, Oakland University

"I love this book! I learned a great deal and gleaned many new ideas for explaining and teaching complex topics, such as the difference between assessment and measurement. The author masterfully describes important aspects of evaluation. I particularly enjoy the way she breaks down the problem statement into 'grand' and 'pocket' problems. I also really like the idea of developing each step of program logic by assessing the difference between fact and assumption. This is marvelous because it backs into a logic model with program theory already in place."--Mary E. Arnold, PhD, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University

"Those who find themselves performing evaluations as part of their jobs will find this book invaluable. In a single volume, philosophical underpinnings, as well as ethics and standards, are combined with the technical aspects of practice--together with helpful tips, activities, and facilitative strategies. As a supplement to formal training, this is the 'all-in-one' manual for evaluation practitioners."--Aimee N. White, MEd, Custom Evaluation Services, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

"Highly recommended. This text offers a very distinctive perspective on what it means to be an evaluator. Skillfully juxtaposing theory and real-world issues, the book uniquely prepares aspiring evaluators for what they will encounter when actually conducting an evaluation. From conceptualization to implementation and dissemination, the text covers the vital challenges evaluators struggle with in every project. Drawing on a wealth of evaluation experience, the author offers needed guidance."--Neil J. Vincent, PhD, Department of Social Work, DePaul University
Donna R. Podems, PhD, is Founder and Director of OtherWISE: Research and Evaluation, an evaluation consultancy in Cape Town, South Africa. She was Senior Research Fellow at Stellenbosch University for 10 years and is currently Senior Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg and Assistant Professor at Michigan State University. Dr. Podems has served on the National Boards of the South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association and the American Evaluation Association (AEA), and is Chair of the AEA's International Working Group. She has edited a book on democratic evaluation and has written numerous articles and book chapters on feminist evaluation, process evaluation, principles-focused evaluation, systems evaluation, utilization-focused evaluation, democratic evaluation, and professionalizing of evaluation.