From Lecture Halls to Real-World Calls: Tiffany Berry’s Evaluation Insights

Tiffany Berry

Whether you’re an educator, a student, or simply someone passionate about youth development and educational programs, this podcast episode with Tiffany Berry, Ph.D., promises to give you insights into the complex world of evaluation. She is the Dean and a full research professor in the Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences at Claremont Graduate University, where she also received her Ph.D.

Her research interests include Educational Program Evaluation, Educational Curricula, Comprehensive School Reform, after-school services, social-emotional learning, and other areas. She has published over 75 technical evaluation reports and peer-reviewed articles in leading evaluation and youth development journals.

The Four Pillars of Evaluation

Tiffany deep dives into four foundational frameworks that guide her evaluation approach:

  1. Theory-Driven Evaluation: This digs deep into the conceptual backbone of a program, deciphering its possible cause-effect pathways.
  2. Collaborative Evaluation: Emphasizing the importance of stakeholder input ensures every voice is truly heard.
  3. Contextual and Cultural Evaluation: Tiffany discussed the necessity of understanding the values and lived experiences of those involved.
  4. Utilization-Focused Evaluation: More than just a final report, this framework continuously emphasizes using data and fosters ongoing stakeholder engagement.

Overcoming Evaluation Challenges

From the changing landscape of success indicators to the intricate process of identifying relevant outcomes, Tiffany explores the challenges faced when evaluating youth development programs. Notably, she stresses the need for broader success metrics, moving away from solely relying on standardized test scores.

Strategy in Evaluation: A Case Study

Have you ever wondered how a sudden twist, like an unexpected funding cut, can pivot an evaluation’s approach? Our conversation delves into a real-world scenario involving the evaluation of Feeding America, which involved a last-minute pivot due to funding changes.

Staying Current: The Continuous Learning Journey

Tiffany shares her strategies for remaining updated in the evolving field of evaluation. From her work revising evaluation courses annually to tapping into the wealth of local practitioner knowledge, her methods emphasize the balance between academic learning and on-ground insights.

Training for the Future: Graduate Programs and More

For those eyeing a career in evaluation, Tiffany provides a roadmap. She highlights both standalone evaluation programs and those integrated into other disciplines. The Claremont Graduate University’s evaluation programs’ offerings stand out as a blend of theoretical and practical training.

Credentialing in Evaluation

While credentials can elevate the standard of evaluations, Tiffany examines the complexities surrounding their implementation, especially in the US. This segment prompts listeners to reflect on the balance between upholding standards and the realities of execution.

Practical Training: The Claremont Way

The Claremont evaluation programs stand out in their approach to merging theory with practical experience. Tiffany elaborates on their structured apprenticeship projects, where students get hands-on experience, culminating in reflective discussions to refine and improve constantly.

Beyond the Classroom: Building Networks

Tiffany highlights the importance of networking through organized endeavors like conferences and organically during collaborations. For budding evaluators, this segment serves as a blueprint for carving their path in the field.

Conclusion

With this podcast episode, Tiffany shares her extensive knowledge and ignites a passion for the nuanced world of evaluation. Every segment is a treasure trove of insights, from foundational frameworks to the intricacies of training and networking. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned professional, this episode promises a deeper understanding of evaluation’s multifaceted realm.

Timeline

0:00 Overview of episode
2:07 Evaluation models and conceptual models she uses
8:56 Common challenges Tiffany encountered evaluating educational programs
11:59 Challenges in measuring youth development outcomes
17:36 Changing her evaluation approach due to unforeseen circumstances or changes in the program
23:00 How to stay current in the field of evaluation
28:10 Advice for those interested in becoming an evaluator
32:41 Advantages and disadvantages of getting a graduate degree in evaluation versus other disciplines
38:15 Credentialing in evaluation in the US
44:32 The uniqueness of Claremont’s evaluation program?
49:40 Claremont’ Doctoral program in evaluation
55:09 Building a professional network in the evaluation field.

If you like this interview, check out my other interviews with evaluation leaders such as Michael Quinn Patton, David Fetterman, and more.

Please reach out with comments and questions. Thanks!

 

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James Pann smiling at the camera, sitting in front of green trees

James Pann, Ph.D. is a Professor at Nova Southeast University and a highly experienced psychologist and evaluator with nearly 25 years of experience. He conducts research and evaluation projects with non-profit organizations in the fields of health, human services, and education, and has received funding from multiple government agencies.

James holds multiple degrees including a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, an M.S. Ed. from the University of Miami, and a BBA in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin. He is also the host of the EvalNetwork podcast, a frequent conference presenter, and has published several peer-reviewed research articles and co-authored a book. James currently resides in Miami, Florida with his family and enjoys backpacking trips. Find out more about his work here.

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