Renowned Evaluation Center at WMU receives $4.9 million NSF grant

Contact: Diana Berkshire Hearit
Portrait photo of Dr. Lori Wingate.

Dr. Lori Wingate

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Evaluation Center has received a five-year, $4.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation to extend and expand its work to support evaluation within the NSF's Advanced Technological Education program.

The University's renowned Evaluation Center is tapped by nonprofit organizations, state and federal agencies, and colleges and universities around the country to conduct program evaluation as well as training.

The center's latest major grant extends its years-long relationship with ATE, a program designed to improve technician education—primarily at colleges that grant associate degrees—in such high-tech areas as advanced manufacturing, nanotechnology and biotechnology.

Developing evaluation capacity

Since 2008, WMU's evaluation experts have been providing evaluation education and technical support through EvaluATE, a project dedicated to developing evaluation capacity within the ATE program.

EvaluATE is currently led by three WMU researchers: principal investigator Dr. Lori Wingate, director of research at the Evaluation Center; co-principal investigator Dr. Arlen Gullickson, professor emeritus of counselor education and counseling psychology; and co-principal investigator Emma Perk, project manager.

With the new grant, two new co-principal investigators are coming on board—Dr. Michael Harnar, assistant professor of interdisciplinary evaluation at WMU, and Dr. Ayesha Boyce, assistant professor of educational research methodology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

"A really important part of what we do at EvaluATE is to educate the project leaders about evaluation—why evaluation is needed, how to find and work with an external evaluator, and what to do with the results," says Wingate. "To our knowledge, this is the largest single grant NSF has made to support evaluation capacity development."

The expanded initiative will make EvaluATE the "evaluation learning and research hub" for the NSF's ATE program.

It will include evaluation education through webinars, workshops, resource materials and technical assistance; the development and facilitation of a network of ATE evaluators and evaluation users; and a program of research on evaluation within the ATE program.

Learn more about EvaluATE online by visiting the Evaluation Center website and clicking Projects.

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