Evaluation students finish as runner-ups in national case competition

Contact: Chris Hybels


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University students Allison Prieur and Andrea Vernola were runner-ups as a team at the American Evaluation Association's student case competition held on June 3. The competition challenged teams to analyze a case and develop an evaluation plan for an organization facing a contemporary issue.

Allison Prieur and Andrea Vernola

Prieur and Vernola are both doctoral students in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Evaluation program and were joined by Kari Ross Nelson (Utah State University) and Amanda Sutter (University of Connecticut) in the competition. Their team was coached by Dr. Michael Harnar, assistant professor of evaluation at WMU and Dr. Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead, associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut.

"These women are all top notch students and thinkers," says Harnar. "They're academically and professionally engaged in this world and were motivated going into the competition."

As part of the case competition, the team spent seven hours developing an evaluation plan for the Indiana Humanities Advancing Racial Equity Collection Development (ACRED) Program. They were charged with proposing a methodological evaluation of the program that engages ACRED partners and prioritizes equity, cultural responsiveness and ethics.

According to Harnar, the team's success can be attributed to the hours of preparation leading up to the competition. In addition to meeting weekly for two months, the team completed a mock competition using case studies from previous years.

"In May, we set aside seven hours to do a trial run of the case competition. Drs. Harnar and Montrosse-Moorhead chose a case from a past competition and we prepared a submission. It gave us the opportunity to come together as a team ahead of the event, and their feedback helped us hone our approach and thinking in preparation for the competition. We learned about each others' strengths and developed a strategy that leveraged our unique individual skillsets," adds Prieur.

The team will be recognized at the upcoming AEA conference and receive free conference registration. To learn more about this year's competition and to view the team's proposal, visit the AEA student case competition website.

Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Evaluation at WMU

The mission of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in evaluation program at Western Michigan University is to develop evaluation scholars and practitioners who have deep knowledge of evaluation theory, methodology and practice as well as superior critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The program is, therefore, designed to develop and nurture evaluation thought leaders who have superior skills in designing, conducting, reporting and critiquing evaluations. To learn more about the program, visit the interdisciplinary in evaluation program website.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.