The Evaluation Center and the interdisciplinary Ph.D. in evaluation program’s activities have supported and are aligned with the Western Michigan University’s three pillars of vision and strategic planning goals.
Pillars of WMU (vision)
The Evaluation Center supports the academic and professional development of students in the interdisciplinary Ph.D. in evaluation program by encouraging and supporting their engagement in the Evaluation Cafe series, employing them on projects, and providing instruction and mentoring activities by senior staff. Likewise, the program supports students to attend the annual American Evaluation Association conference, where they give presentations, engage in leadership roles for the organizational topical interests groups and build their professional networks beyond WMU.
With many interdisciplinary Ph.D. in evaluation program students’ learning extending beyond traditional coursework, they have opportunities to develop and improve soft skills, such as communication, management and critical thinking, which are essential for competent evaluation work.
The Evaluation Center has several projects supported by external grants and contracts. These grants and contracts enable the center to provide evaluation services to local, national and international organizations, as well as to advance the science of program evaluation.
Consistent with the center’s mission to advance the theory, practice and utilization of evaluation, we have a strong dissemination focus: Center staff and faculty generated four peer-reviewed publications, 25 presentations and nine workshops. Students of the interdisciplinary Ph.D. in evaluation program gave 11 presentations.
The Evaluation Center has a long history of working across borders. We have provided evaluation services to the Swiss National Science Foundation, International Labour Organization, Integra (Solvenia), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s International Codex Outreach program.
Four international students—from Malaysia, Peru, Saudi Arabia and Japan—are enrolled in the interdisciplinary Ph.D. in evaluation program.
Western Michigan University's strategic planning goals
Ensure a distinctive learning experience and foster the success of students.All students of the interdisciplinary Ph.D. in evaluation program are required to complete nine credits of practical evaluation experience. Placements on The Evaluation Center projects are common. This year, 12 students worked on center projects as part of the field experience requirements or other roles. These experiences afforded them real-world experience, such as:
- Collecting data in the field.
- Conducting extensive literature and document reviews.
- Developing and implementing evaluation management plans.
- Developing relational databases for multiple projects.
- Developing survey instruments and protocols for interviews and focus groups.
- Leading internal evaluation work for a large-scale project.
- Managing, analyzing and reporting on data from a survey of NSF program grantees conducted annually since 2000.
- Managing logistics for data collection via field visits.
- Presenting center project work to national and international audiences.
- Transcribing interview data and analyzing rich qualitative data from interviews and document reviews.
Promote innovative learning, discovery and service.Students engaged with faculty and center staff in developing numerous scholarly publications and presentations (see publication and presentations), and both staff and students are encouraged to participate in professional conferences and take leadership roles in professional organizations.
Advance WMU as a major research university.WMU is an evaluation powerhouse in terms of scholarship, service and education. The Evaluation Center is without peer in terms of its longevity as a center dedicated to evaluation. The interdisciplinary Ph.D. in evaluation program is unique in the world in terms of the truly interdisciplinary nature of its doctoral degree.
The center has competed successfully to obtain grants and contracts for major federal and international research sponsors, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), National Science Foundation, Swiss National Science Foundation and the U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Ensure diverse, inclusive and healthy communityThrough the Evaluation Cafe series, the center and interdisciplinary Ph.D. in evaluation program call attention to matters related to diversity, inclusion and vulnerable populations. This year's Evaluation Cafe presenters addressed cultural competence and racial equity in evaluation. Additionally, Dr. Lori Wingate, assistant director of The Evaluation Center, serves on the advisory committee for WMU's Racial Healing grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.