The American Evaluation Association’s annual conference, “Evaluation 2010,” focused on evaluation quality and how by keeping your fingers on the pulse of audience needs and establishing a collaborative and participatory process can help achieve that.
The conference brought together evaluation practitioners, academics and students to explore the theme of evaluation quality. One of the opening plenary speakers emphasized the importance of keeping your fingers on the pulse of audiences by establishing a collaborative and participatory process with stakeholders to strengthen evaluation quality and use. Although “quality” in evaluation is often discussed in terms of validity, reliability, triangulation, and convergence, the concept of collaboration and participation kept emerging.
The monitoring and evaluation team here at K4Health could not agree more. By working closely with our technical advisors, key informants and intended audiences, and involving them in different phases of the needs assessment activities, we have strengthened the process to better inform the design and implementation of most, if not all, of the project. During the conference, K4Health had an opportunity to share our experiences in using online surveys to assess information needs of health professionals globally (e.g., our Global Online Survey), and discuss concrete approaches we have undertaken to ensure data quality.
Audience research is one of the key elements of the Knowledge Management (KM) cycle which guides K4Health’s design. Our mixed-method needs assessment activities have captured valuable findings to inform the development of our knowledge management resources, products and services – including our eToolkits, eLearning and eForums – which are designed for public health professionals in a variety of roles, including policy makers, program managers and health care providers around the world. Our needs assessment activities, including our Environment Scan, Global Online Survey and In-Country Qualitative Studies (which can be viewed at www.k4health.org/needs-assessments), have been completed and summary reports are available on the K4Health website.
Being a non-native English speaker, I always found the phrase, “keeping your fingers on the pulse of the audience,” very interesting. I usually visualize someone intensely focusing and trying to be in touch with what is occurring at all times. Based on that interpretation, I think the phrase accurately describes what K4Health strives to accomplish on an ongoing basis, which is to assess the information needs of our audience accurately, effectively and timely. To honor that approach and continue the dialogue, we welcome your comments or suggestions on any of our reports to ensure that we keep our fingers on the pulse of your needs and are truly serving you the best way we can.
Saori Ohkubo, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager