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What I did on my summer vacation

by Jill Scheibler [caption id="attachment_1451" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Hint: It involved both literal and metaphorical roller coasters.[/caption]Today— with suntans fading and schools back in full swing— it's a few days into fall and I can definitely feel it! It's gloomy outside and I'd like nothing more than to revisit my summer vacation.In my role at CRC I wear a number of different “evaluation hats”, and otherwise keep busy throughout the year teaching courses at a local university and directing a small arts nonprofit called Make Studio. When summer rolls around I am very eager to escape my not-quite-9-definitely-later-than-5 schedule for some fresh air and sunshine. Yet I don’t necessarily want to shut off my brain or escape the things that excite me about my work.So, this year I went to summer camp...

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Secrets from the Data Cave, May 2014

by Sarah McCrudenWelcome to CRC’s monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who don’t know, the title references our room — fondly referred to as “the bat cave”— where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here we’ll be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what we’re implementing here at CRC!May 2014:  The Difficult Database, Part 1: The Data Monster            In my experience working with relational databases, I’ve seen it all: the good, the bad, and the very ugly in data-keeping practices.  I’ve learned a lot about wrangling data in an unruly database. While plenty of problems I see are caused by a complicated combination of elements...

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Guest Blog: Moneyball & adapting to a data driven world

 by Meridith PolinThe role of the evaluator is much like that of Peter Brand in the  movie Moneyball (based on the book by Michael Lewis, a favorite author of mine). Peter Brand’s role as an economics whiz kid—   hired by the Oakland A’s— was to help them figure out how to win. Using meaningful statistics, Peter and the General Manager Billy Beane, helped turn the game of baseball on its head by looking at data in a new way. Similarly, evaluators are charged with  identifying and measuring the ‘bottom line’ of non-profit services from a social impact perspective. We have seen an explosion of businesses and non-profits talk about the use of data (like they do in Moneyball).But before anyone thinks about the analysis of data,   we (as...

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Evaluation Use

Use of an evaluation’s findings (i.e., lessons learned) and process use (i.e., evaluation use that takes place before lessons learned are generated and feedback initiated) are two of the clearest, simplest examples of the uses for evaluations. (Fleischer and Christie (2009) offer other examples, but recognizing they don’t have clear definitions, they won’t be discussed here.) By now there is much agreement that there is a great deal of useful information generated during the evaluation process itself, information that could increase involvement and learning.Instituting practices that foster involvement in the evaluation process will lead to increased evaluation use, right? This idea seems to be common sense, but why is it that common sense concepts are often hard to implement or forgotten all together?I’d offer that often common sense ideas sound...

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