AKEN News & Opportunities Blog

      This blog features content by AKEN members. If you would like to contribute, please contact us at alaskaeval@gmail.com!


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  • 17 Nov 2015 12:27 PM | Anonymous

    AEA researcher, Randi Nelson, with Partners in Evaluation LLC is  looking for subjects for research on evaluative site visits.  She is conducting research on how and why site visits are conducted.  The findings from her study will be included in a chapter of an upcoming New Directions in Evaluation volume.

     

    She wants to interview evaluators who use site visits in their evaluations, and would also like to interview the staff at the organizations who commission the site visits, as well as the staff of the “visited” programs.  If you would like to participate, or learn more, please contact Randi at:


    Randi Nelson

    Partners in Evaluation, LLC

    (612) 850-9196

    Eval.Partners.Nelson@gmail.com

  • 10 Mar 2014 9:00 AM | Anonymous
    Over the last forty years, the federal government has issued and revised extensive regulations around the protection of human subjects involved in research; the need for such regulation was evident not just from the extreme abuses by Germany during the Nazi era, but also from abuses closer to home, such as the decision to study the progression of syphilis by withholding treatment from research subjects in Tuskeegee from the 1940s to the 1970s,and to study hepatitis by deliberately infecting children in the Willowbrook State School in New York in the 1950s and 60s. Key in that protection are Institutional Review Boards that review research plans for ethical challenges.  

    While the regulations are directed at ‘research’ rather than ‘evaluation’, many of our studies as evaluators (especially those of us working in public health and post-secondary institutions) fall under the purview of one or more IRBs.  In addition, research may require one or more tribal approvals.  For example, if research is focused on Southcentral Foundation’s customer-owners (Alaska Native or American Indian people living in or near Anchorage), if recruitment occurs on the Alaska Native Medical Center campus or if Southcentral Foundation employees are engaged in the research, the researchers must obtain Southcentral Foundation approval; similarly, research in the Bethel area may require approval from the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation.

    Obtaining approvals, making all the required changes, and ensuring the final research protocol is the same across all the potentially different approvals can be time consuming and organizationally challenging.  However, the process isn’t just a bureaucratic exercise.  It can be series of valuable and useful reviews of your research plans by professionals who bring multiple different perspectives and make suggestions (and requirements) that improve your research design.

    Hot tips:

    Plan plenty of time.  A full board review by just one IRB can easily take two to four months to prepare and submit, and another month to make the required modifications and receive approval.  Projects that require multiple board and tribal reviews can take a year, even without significant delays or modifications, just because of the meeting schedules of different review levels.

    Communicate, communicate, communicate!  The IRB administrators and sometimes the board members (when they have time) can be valuable resources to guide your efforts, to understand how the reviews take place, and to clarify required modifications, if there are any.

    Be compulsively organized.  If your institution uses IRBNet (or a similar software package) to manage IRB submissions, it may have tools for tracking document revisions, as well as on-line instructions and forms that you’ll need for your submissions. You’ll also want your own copies of everything submitted, organized so that you can easily tell what’s been submitted, modified, or approved through the process.

    Rad Resources:

    For a quick overview of human subjects protection issues, see the AEA365 blog post by Judy Savageau on “The IRB Process in Human Subject Research” (http://aea365.org/blog/judy-savageau-on-the-irb-process-in-human-subject-research/)  

    Everyone should read the Belmont Report sometime:http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/belmont.html


  • 08 Feb 2014 9:00 AM | Anonymous
    During the 2013 American Evaluation Annual Conference in Washington DC, the local affiliateWashington Evaluators Group coordinated an effort for "Evaluators to Visit Capitol Hill" (EVCH). Using webinars and other distance technology, they trained evaluators from around the nation on how to contact their representatives and discuss the importance of evaluating government programs for better management and accountability.

    AKEN Representatives met with staffers from Senator MurkowskiSenator Begich, and Congressman Young's  offices, to highlight the utility of evaluation for government decision-making nationally and talk about evaluation capacity and efforts in Alaska. The staffers were interested in our group and look forward to learning more evaluation in Alaska!

    Karen McCarthy, a staffer in Senator Murkowski's office, suggested AKEN consider putting together an occasional newsletter highlighting the work of our members.  If you would be interested in coordinating of contributing to such an AKEN newsletter/brief, please drop us an email at alaskaeval@gmail.com.


  • 06 Feb 2014 11:25 AM | Anonymous
    I’m Corrie Whitmore, the founding President of AKEN. I am very proud of our organization’s growth in 2013 AKEN Corrie Whitmore: 2013 President's Report and look forward to a busy second year. In 2014 I hope AKEN will:

    • Connect with more evaluators outside Anchorage and Fairbanks, to bring their important perspective to the conversation and build evaluation capacity around our enormous, diverse state. 
    • Increase our outreach to students by adding a Student Liaison to the Board of Managers. 
    • Work with faculty teaching evaluation in Alaska to share AKEN members’ expertise with students and invite more student voices into the AKEN conversation. 
    • Host two panel presentations at our General Membership Meetings, facilitated by Diwakar Vadipalli. In 2012, Diwakar hosted a panel on teaching evaluation. In 2013, he organized a panel discussing the current and future state of evaluation practices in Alaska’s human service agencies. These presentations were well attended and fostered great discussion among our members.
    • Increase our social media presence by doubling the number of blog posts written and shared onFacebook and Twitter. The blog is a great place for our members to share resources, describe projects they are working on, or seek feedback on questions they find interesting. If you are interested in writing a post or joining the blog team, please contact us at alaskaeval@gmail.com 
    • Grow our organizational infrastructure, including a designated AKEN conference line that will remain the same from meeting to meeting.
    • Designate a Conference Steering Committee and move toward hosting an AKEN Conference in 2015, which has been designated as the international “Year of Evaluation.”  Stay tuned for more information on this, including conference location, dates, and topics.

    2014 is going to be a great year for the Alaska Evaluation Network! I hope you will join us, as we pursue our mission to “support evaluation practices that are responsive to the uniqueness of Alaska's geographic, social, cultural, and administrative context; encourage effective evaluation; improve evaluation capacity within the state; and advocate for evaluation leadership.”


  • 31 Dec 2013 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    I’m Corrie Whitmore, the founding President of AKEN. I am very proud of our first year as an officially recognized American Evaluation Association (AEA) affiliate organization. At the beginning of the year, we had a mailing list, a newly elected board, and the start of by-laws. By the end of the year, we had held twelve meetings, taken on 39 official members, and presented a full slate of programming. 

    AKEN has adopted a schedule of hosting five General Membership meetings around programs, one General Membership Business meeting, and six Board of Managers (BoM) meetings each year. 

    February’s General Membership meeting focused on forming our Membership, Programming, and Nominations Committee. Over the course of the year, the Membership Committee developed our organizational website and social media presence (FacebookTwitterblog), created the forms and process for members to join the organization, and conducted the first AKEN Member Survey. The Programming Committee coordinated the content of our four program meetings and the Nominating Committee put together a slate of candidates for our 2013 Elections.

    At April’s General Membership meeting, Alda Norris of UAF’s Cooperative Extension presented on Data Visualization Tools. This presentation is available in our Resource Library.

    In May, we organized the “AKEN Week” on the AEA365 blog with posts by seven members. I introduced the Alaska Evaluation Network;  Amelia Ruerup posted on Understanding Indigenous Evaluation in an Alaskan Context;  Alda Norris discussed Interdisciplinary Approaches to Extension Evaluation in Alaska; Diane Hirshberg and Lexi Hill posted about Mixed Methods for Small Sample Sizes and Culturally Responsive Practices;  kas aruskevich wrote about Strengthening Itinerant Evaluations in Rural Alaska; and Vanessa Hiratsuka posted about Continuous Quality Improvement, Quality Assurance, Evaluation, and Research: Where does my project fit? Participating in the AEA365 blog was a great way to be part of the broader evaluation conversations that are taking place, while also getting our organization’s name out there.

    In June, Karen Heath and Danielle Reed from UAA’s Center for Human Development presented on the Evaluation of Employment Projects at the General Membership Meeting.

    At August’s General Membership meeting, Lexi Hill of UAA’s Institute of Social and Economic Researchpresented preliminary data from AKEN Membership Survey. We plan to repeat this survey in the future, now that we have baseline data from our first year.

    In October, Diwakar Vadipailli of UAA’s Institute of Social and Economic Research hosted a panel with Andrea Fenaughty, Bernita Hamilton, and Lisa Aquino, discussing the current and future state of evaluation practices in Alaska’s human service agencies.  This panel was well attended and sparked a great deal of discussion.

    Later in the month, six AKEN members presented a panel entitled “The State of Evaluation in Alaska: Capacity Building in Alaska's Complex Evaluation Environment” at the AEA National Conference. Alda Norris of UAF’s Cooperative Extension presented on “Evaluation in the Last Frontier: Unique Aspects of Documenting Formal and Non-Formal Learning in Alaska;” Wendi Kanneberg, of Southcentral Foundation, spoke about  “Building Capacity for Culturally Competent Evaluations in a Tribal Environment;” and Susan Tucker (of Evaluation & Development Associates, LLC) Ed McLain (from theUAA College of Education), Lexi Hill, and I presented the “Theoretical Base and Design of the Alaska Evaluation Network Membership Survey” and “Lessons for Evaluation Capacity Building in Alaska: Learning from the Results of the Alaska Evaluation Network's Membership Survey."  The session was well attended by evaluators with Alaska connections and it was great to meet so many people interested in the evaluation in the 49th state!

    In November, we elected a new Vice President, Doug Cost, and Treasurer, Iris Matthews, for 2014. I look forward to working with Doug and Iris on the Board of Managers in 2014.

    December is the month of our General Membership Business Meeting. We revisited our by-laws to propose a few small changes, discussed next steps toward an AKEN Conference in 2015, and began recruiting members for the 2014 committees. I hope you will consider increasing your participation in AKEN activities or joining a committee this year, to help our organization flourish in 2014.

    What a wonderful, full year we had in 2013! 


  • 31 Dec 2013 11:23 AM | Anonymous
    KEY FINDINGS FROM ALASKA

    The workforce training survey conducted by Northwest Center for Public Health Practice (NWCPHP) discussed many results.  Here are highlights of the key findings:

    • Supervisors reported the most interest in having the people they supervise attend training programs focused on performance management, evidence-based public health, and public health management.

    • Almost all respondents indicated that skills in communication and cultural competency, and analytic/assessment were most important to their jobs. Systems thinking was also indicated as being of high importance to the jobs of all respondents.

    • Skills in leadership, management, systems thinking, and analytic/assessment were important to supervisors’ jobs.

    • The domains non-supervisors identified as being of moderate/high importance to their job are community dimensions of practice, systems thinking, analytic/assessment and program planning.

    • Supervisors indicated a higher need for training in management, systems thinking, analytic/assessment and cultural competency.

    • Non-supervisors indicated a higher need for training in communication, analytic/assessment and community dimensions of practice.

    • Webinar presentations and distance education were the preferred training formats.

    • Webinar presentations and computer-based training were the preferred forms of distance training.

    • Respondents indicated that Twitter and blogs were the forms of social media of highest training need. Training in Facebook and LinkedIn followed closely.

    • Respondents prefer email as a means to receive information about training.

    An Executive Summary Brief for the entire  Regional Training Needs Assessment (including but not limited to Alaska) is available at http://www.nwcphp.org/documents/communications/news/training-needs-assessment-regional-brief-2013

    If you are interested in learning more about the Alaska Training Needs Report or the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice, please feel free to contact me at Rhonda.Johnson@uaa.alaska.edu

    Link to part one: Introduction and Methods and part two Description of Respondents: 
    http://www.alaskaeval.org/blog.html


  • 14 Dec 2013 11:22 AM | Anonymous
    DESCRIPTION OF RESPONDENTS

    Respondents to the workforce training survey conducted by Northwest Center for Public Health Practice (NWCPHP) were primarily female (93%), between 30 and 59 years of age (83.3%), and Caucasian (82%). The largest percentage of respondents had an advanced college degree (96%), and their highest degree was in the field of nursing (54%).

    When respondents were asked about the type of public health organization they work in, the majority of respondents reported working at a state health department (63%). Nurses (community or public health nurse and other) and administrator or director made up two-thirds of the respondents (54% and 12%, respectively). Forty-two percent of respondents have worked in public health or a related field for over 10 years, while 13% have worked at their current position for 10 or more years. Approximately 35% of respondents have been in their current position for 1 to 3 years, and 91% work full-time.

    When asked about organizational role, the majority of respondents report that they are non-supervisory staff (53%). Among those that reported a management or supervisory organizational role, the majority indicated that they were office directors or program managers (25% of leaders, managers, and supervisors). The majority of respondents indicated that they plan to retire in 5 or more years (70%).

    Respondents were also asked if they had supervisory responsibilities in their current job. Those who answered yes were asked how many people they supervised and interest in training programs for the people they supervise. Those respondents who answered no were directed to answer questions about their own training needs. Forty-percent of the respondents indicated that they had supervisory responsibilities in their current job. Of those respondents that have supervisory responsibilities, the largest percentage indicated that they supervise 1 to 4 people (38%), followed by 5 to 9 people (36%).

    Next is Part Three: KEY FINDINGS FROM ALASKA

    Link to Part One: Introduction and Methods http://www.alaskaeval.org/blog.html


  • 06 Dec 2013 11:00 AM | Anonymous
    Hello  Fellow AKEN members:

    I’m Rhonda Johnson, and for those of you I haven’t had the pleasure to meet, I am pleased to be part of this still new network with you!  I am also  Chair of the Department of Health Sciences at UAA, and have been Program Director of our statewide, distance-delivered graduate program in public health since 2004.  We have program evaluation courses in both our undergraduate minor in public health and in our graduate MPH degree program.  For more info on our programs, see http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/healthsciences/about/index.cfm

    I thought some of you might be interested in some highlights from a regional public health workforce survey that was recently conducted in partnership with the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice (NWCPHP) based at University of Washington.  I serve on the Regional Network Steering Committee for the NWCPHP.

    This post is the first of a three part series for the month of December:

    Introduction and Methods – December  6
    Description of Respondents – December 13
    Key Findings from Alaska – December 20

    INTRODUCTION

    THE NORTHWEST CENTER:  NWCPHP is one of 38 public health training centers (PHTC) across the country funded by the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA). One of the four legislative mandates for PHTCs is to conduct a needs assessment to develop training for the public health practice community. The purpose of this training needs assessment is to identify the regional interests and needs of public health practitioners in the six-state region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, including practitioners in tribal health settings.  For more information on NWCPHP see http://www.nwcphp.org/training 

    Note that they have a section of their website devoted to Evaluation, including program evaluation tips, training evaluation tips, training needs assessment tips, drill and exercise evaluation tips and online training, plus additional tools and resources!

    http://www.nwcphp.org/evaluation/learn-evaluation

    THE WORKFORCE TRAINING SURVEY METHODS

    The questionnaire was developed by the evaluation team at NWCPHP with input from local and state partners. The focus areas included in the training needs assessment were based on the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals. NWCPHP worked closely with the Regional Network Steering Committee and other practice partners to collect names and email addresses, coordinate announcements to encourage participation, and disseminate the survey to the public health workforce in the six-state region. To distribute the survey to public health professionals in Alaska, the NWCPHP partnered with the State Department of Health and Social Services, the Alaska Public Health Association, and University of Alaska Anchorage.

    Information about the survey and a link to participate were featured on the NWCPHP website homepage from February 5th to March 1st, 2013. An email link to take the survey was also sent to personnel from the Alaska public health nursing professionals. The instrument included questions about employment, specific competencies, social media, mentoring and questions related to training modality preferences and barriers. The instrument also included questions specific to supervisors to assess interest in training programs, which were defined as multiple sessions over an extended period of time, and basic demographic information. The report summarizes training needs assessment results from Alaska respondents.  The results presented are from a convenience sample rather than a random sample, and are therefore not necessarily representative of the public health workforce in our region, but rather of the 118 people who completed the questionnaire. NOTE, however, that this is more than twice the number of Alaskan public health professionals who participated in the last regional workforce assessment about five years ago, and all regions of the state were represented in the sample.

    Next is Part Two: DESCRIPTION OF RESPONDENTS


  • 12 Nov 2013 3:00 PM | Anonymous
    Hello all AKEN Members,

    We are seeking nominations for student affiliate, vice president and treasurer of the Alaska Evaluator's Network (AKEN). Please forward names to me at kas@evaluationresearch.us; or to alaskaeval.gmail.com.

    Nominations will be accepted until Nov. 21.

    Electronic voting will be opened for 2 weeks - from November 25 - Dec. 

    10th. Those elected will be notified prior to the December AKEN meeting.

    Best regards,

    kas aruskevich
    AKEN VP


  • 04 Nov 2013 11:17 AM | Anonymous
    Hello AKEN members:

    I’m Diane Hirshberg, and for those of you I don’t know, I’m director of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, a part of the Institute of Social and Economic Research. I conduct both research and evaluations around education policy and practice, and have taught program evaluation as well.

    I want to share with you one of my favorite research and evaluation resources that we have at UAA, the SAGE Research Methods (SRM) online database. http://Srmo.sagepub.com

    SRM is a both an online repository of thousands of SAGE publications and a tool for exploring research methods. It includes full text chapters and articles from numerous SAGE handbooks, textbooks, encyclopedias, journals and other reference materials, and all of the “Little Green Books”  - quantitative research methods and “Little Blue Books!” – qualitative research methods.  But in addition to these reference materials, the website includes videos from researchers discussing how they make decisions around methods, a “methods map” visualization tool that allows you to explore relationships between methods (and to discover new methods), and access to lists of resources that other researchers have developed. 

    I use SRM both when I am developing my own research and evaluation projects and in teaching others how to do research and evaluation. My students, especially my graduate students, are thrilled to learn about this resource!

    Unfortunately, SRM is only available via an institutional subscription; individuals cannot subscribe. If you are in Anchorage, however, you can come to the UAA Consortium Library and access the database free of charge. At the library you can download .pdf files and then email them to yourself. You also can get access to SRM as a distance UAA student – if you were thinking of taking an online course from UAA, access to SRM will add to making it worth your while!

    Otherwise, if you work at an organization that invests in research reference materials, you may want to encourage them to sign up. Information on how to contact SAGE about SRM is at:http://srmo.sagepub.com/page/how-to-purchase.  There is also link at the bottom of the “how to purchase” page if you want to send a recommendation direct to your campus or organization’s librarian.


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