Promoting Diversity in the Field of Evaluation

Reflections on the First Year of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Evaluation Fellowship Program

This RWJF program aims to infuse the evaluation field with well-trained individuals from diverse backgrounds, with varying experiences and perspectives to meet the increasing diversity of programs and communities that the profession serves.

The field of evaluation has a unique challenge in the road to professional development. While some evaluators pursue evaluation as an academic endeavor, many earn degrees in other substantive areas and are now interested in learning more about the field. A discipline with such varied points of entry must find unique and responsive methods for providing professional development to individuals with a wide variety of backgrounds and evaluation experience.

The overarching goal of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Evaluation Fellowship Program is to provide individuals with the necessary skills and training to become program evaluators and highly skilled consumers of evaluation. The training focuses on evaluation in general with a special emphasis on culturally responsive evaluations.

Interviews with Dr. Rodney Hopson, Hillman Distinguished Professor, Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership in the School of Education at Duquesne University and Gerri Spilka, Executive Director of OMG Center for Collaborative Learning reveal that an essential strength of this work is the collaborative relationship between an academic institution and a nonprofit firm. They highlight three additional points that are important to the field of professional development in evaluation:

  1. Post-degree practicum training models must consider the training of participants, as well as organizational transformation;
  2. the tension between expanding the program and the responsive and intimate nature of educational programs intended to develop communities of practice should be acknowledged; and
  3. considerations of program sustainability must be taken into account.

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