How do evaluators really feel about evaluation use?

I was very glad to learn recently that Ann Emery will be conducting the third iteration of the evaluation use attitudinal survey in January 2013!  This survey (an earlier version, anyway), was first conducted by Hallie Preskill and Valerie Caracelli in 1996, and then in 2006 by Dreolin Fleischer and Christina Christie. AEA members may recall being asked to participate in one or both of these surveys (I’m pretty sure I do!).

Ann provides great links to more info about each of the surveys in this blog post at Emery Evaluation, including this nifty comparison.

As she prepares to conduct the survey, Ann is looking for ideas and feedback. She asks “What issues will take center stage during the third survey – nonuse, misuse, evaluative thinking, organizational learning, or other hot topics?” To provide input, comment on Ann’s blog post about the survey or email her at annkemery at

I have a feeling these will be very well-covered already… but here are my suggestions: I would like to learn more about how other evaluators attempt to advocate for or otherwise support use of evaluation findings, either in the context of their own evaluation work or separately. I would also like to learn more about the challenges evaluators experience around evaluation use, and am curious about how those challenges may have changed (lessened?) over the last almost-decade. And it would be a shame to ask and learn about challenges without asking and learning about successes that might illuminate transferable practices.

In higher education assessment, we talk about ‘closing the loop’ — applying what we learn from assessment work to improvements in practices. I’m working now on a blog post with examples of closing the loop per my experiences in higher ed assessment thus far — I hope these will provide examples that could be translated more generally to advocacy or support of program evaluation use. And, though assessment in higher ed is inherently internal, and centered on learning and applying said learning, and therefore (I believe) at an advantage when it comes to use (i.e. findings are more likely applied when those who discover said findings are program stakeholders who are highly invested in the success of their programs), it is not without challenges regarding use of findings. Can you tell I’m still thinking about assessment/evaluation parallels?

2 thoughts on “How do evaluators really feel about evaluation use?

  1. Great post, Kim!

    I’m doing this survey for an educational psychology graduate program so I’m always finding parallels between educational, school-based assessments and the broader evaluation field. I’m looking forward to reading about ‘closing the loop’ in higher education assessments.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas for the survey! Stay tuned to watch the research unfold. I’m sure we’ll be keeping in touch! -Ann

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