Did you miss us, listeners? Your erstwhile podcast hosts are back in the saddle! Or back on the bicycle? Whatever metaphor we eventually landed on, this is our first published episode in over two years! A little rusty, but we’re pretty sure being a little unpolished is part of our charm, right?
In this episode, we catch you up on what we’ve been doing, including Brian’s capstone project, C’s evaluation workshop, and a paper on queer evaluation we have been writing with some of our colleagues. As ever, no promises about a regular release schedule in the future, but we’re excited to be sitting around the metaphorical coffee table again!
We’re joined this week by Carolyn Hoessler, facilitator, curriculum developer, evaluator, and Founder of Higher Education and Beyond. After a brief chat on evaluation in higher education contexts, we dive into the topics of sense-making and evaluative thinking, covering What-So What-Now What, the Cynefin framework, children as complex adaptive systems, and the power of saying “I don’t know”. Plus, Brian takes some time to answer the question “Is water wet?”, and Carolyn C says something nice about the field of evaluation.
On this week’s episode, we’re joined by Khalil Bitar, chair of the EvalYouth Global Network for a wide-ranging conversation. We touch on the trends we’re seeing with young and emerging evaluators, why we should consider contrarian opinions, the value of evaluative thinking, and how we can work in service of equity and justice without sacrificing methodology and rigour.
In this episode, we’ve invited listeners from across the globe to join us in checking in, connecting, and being human with each other as we respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Thank you to Ann, Jade, Cameron, Zach, Carolyn H., Shelby, Tom, Sarah, Libby, Kelly, Naomi, Trilby, Megan, Chris, Khalil, and Nicky for being part of this episode and sharing your stories.
In this episode of Eval Cafe (one of only two places where evaluators really get crunk, according to guest Andy Johnson, with the other being the Diversity TiG social at the annual AEA conference), come hang out with our super panel of returning guests—Andy Johnson and Nora Murphy Johnson (Inspire to Change), and Chris Corrigan (Harvest Moon Consulting) as we expand chronos and play infinite games in kairos. We start by jumping into the question, “What does evaluation offer and what does evaluation need in times of great uncertainty and injustice?”, and follow that thread through a conversation about how evaluation delivers uncertainty instead of certainty, why arts-based evaluation exists (aside from being the coolest evaluation), evaluators as accompanists and ‘friends of the process’, Nora’s outline of her theory of transformation (plus one addition from Chris), exoskeletons, endoskeletons, why evaluation needs imagination to be rigorous, spaciousness, how to play in complexity, and how interesting it is how many problems can be solved in exactly the three years of a granting cycle.
Brian and C dive into the year 2020 with a characteristically reflective episode where we review the highs and lows of 2019 and our ambitions and intentions for the year ahead. From Brian’s “tripped on a skateboard, slipped on a banana peel, did a triple lutz, and somehow stuck the landing” to C’s “living in the surprise of it”, we talk about the tribulations of evaluation consulting and finding our respective niches, how the ‘sausage gets made’ vis a vis the podcast, tease our respective plans for 2020 and some potential episode topics and guests, and go deep on what it all means. Will C get that Red Rose tea sponsorship? Will Brian keep his digital spaces decluttered? How many books does C sleep with? Will Brian EVER have a Year of the Trombone? And how are evaluators like Casper the Friendly Ghost? Only time (and this episode) will tell!
C and Brian attended AEA 2019, and reflecting, learning, connecting, and hilarity ensued! Especially when they realized that they almost forgot how to properly record a podcast (on that note, sorry about Brian’s poor audio quality). Topics covered include conference rooming as a means for testing friendship, praises for the footwear choice of a past podcast guest, reimagining the conference and our footprint on the host community, and the merits of a river of coffee.
Kelly Hannum joins C and Brian this episode to talk about leadership and its connection to evaluation. After defining what “leadership” actually means (spoiler: it involves direction, alignment, and commitment), we discuss evaluation’s power to question the premise, the transformational power of leadership development, the importance of relational or “soft” skills in both evaluation and leadership, and the connection between evaluation and strategic planning. Also, we learn more about C’s back story and declare an official position of the podcast on a key evaluation issue.
David Keyes joins C and Brian to talk about R – the open-source statistical package, that is, not the letter (or the pirate vocalization). Once we got past Brian’s bad pun, we discussed the benefits of using code, how to get started with R, and using the software to help communicate results. We also learned that R is not just a tool for statisticians and that there’s a welcoming online community of folks helping newbies and creating equity-focused tools. Come for the statistical package, stay for the community!