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Evaluation Failures

Evaluation Failures
22 Tales of Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned

Edited by:

January 2019 | 184 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
“This is the evaluation book we've been waiting for! A must-read for all learning and working in the field.” 
–Amanda M. Olejarski, West Chester University

Evaluation Failures: 22 Tales of Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned is a candid collection of stories from seasoned evaluators from a variety of sectors sharing professional mistakes they have made in the past, and what they learned moving forward. As the only book of its kind, editor Kylie Hutchinson has collected a series of engaging, real-life examples that are both entertaining and informative. Each story offers universal lessons as takeaways, and discussion questions for reflective practice. The book is the perfect companion to anyone working in the evaluation field, and to instructors of program evaluation courses who want to bring the real world into their classroom.

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Michael Quinn Patton
Corey Newhouse
Chapter 1. It’s Not Me, It’s You: The Value of Addressing Conflict Head On
E. Jane Davidson
Chapter 2. The Scope Creep Train Wreck: How Responsive Evaluation Can Go Off the Rails
Gail Vallance Barrington
Chapter 3. The Buffalo Jump: Lessons After the Fall
Emma Williams
Chapter 4. Evaluator Self-Evaluation: When Self-Flagellation Is Not Enough
Hallie Preskill
Chapter 5. That Alien Feeling: Engaging All Stakeholders in the Universe
Thomas Archibald
Chapter 6. Seeds of Failure: How the Evaluation of a West African Agricultural Scale Up Project Went Awry
Rakesh Mohan
Chapter 7. I Didn’t Know I Would Be a Tightrope Walker Someday: Balancing Evaluator Responsiveness and Independence
Felix Muramutsa
Chapter 8. When National Pride Is Beyond Facts: Navigating Conflicting Stakeholder Requirements
Jara Dean-Coffey
Chapter 9. Stars in Our Eyes: What Happens When Things Are Too Good to Be True
Chris Lovato
Chapter 10. A “Failed” Logic Model: How I Learned to Connect With All Stakeholders
Kylie Hutchinson
Chapter 11. Lost Without You: A Lesson in System Mapping and Engaging Stakeholders
Robert P. Shepherd
Chapter 12. You Got to Know When to Hold ’Em: An Evaluation That Went From Bad to Worse
Marla Steinberg
Chapter 13. The Evaluation From Hell: When Evaluators and Clients Don’t Quite Fit
Jan Noga
Chapter 14. The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Evaluators: Dealing With Data Collection Surprises in the Field
Isaac D. Castillo
Chapter 15. Are You My Amigo, or My Chero? The Importance of Cultural Competence in Data Collection and Evaluation
Jennifer Bisgard and Mary Pat Selvaggio
Chapter 16. OMG, Why Can’t We Get the Data? A Lesson in Managing Evaluation Expectations
Karen Snyder
Chapter 17. No, Actually, This Project Has to Stop Now: Learning When to Pull the Plug
Susan Igras
Chapter 18. Missing in Action: How Assumptions, Language, History, and Soft Skills Influenced a Cross-Cultural Participatory Evaluation
Benoît Gauthier
Chapter 19. “This Is Highly Illogical”: How a Spock Evaluator Learns That Context and Mixed Methods Are Everything
Diana Tindall
Chapter 20. The Ripple That Became a Splash: The Importance of Context and Why I Now Do Data Parties
Lisa O’Reilly
Chapter 21. The Voldemort Evaluation: How I Learned to Survive Organizational Dysfunction, Confusion, and Distrust
Stephanie Evergreen
Chapter 22. The Only Way Out Is Through

“Real failures of real evaluators . . . no additives or preservatives.”

Robert Renaud
University of Manitoba

Evaluation Failures is an impressive evaluation guide that highlights several real-world evaluation pitfalls (as presented by experts in the field) and provides useful suggestions as to how these may be skillfully navigated. It gives both new and seasoned evaluators permission to laugh at themselves as they discover more about conducting a successful evaluation. The text introduces lessons from evaluation failures as important tools on the road to evaluation success!”

Sandra Schrouder
Barry University

“This collection is useful for evaluators that want to reflect on their own work, successes and failures, and improve their craft. It is inspiring to see how the evaluators we all look up to have identified and addressed their challenges. We can all do the same to improve our craft! This collection of stories speaks volumes to the skills that we only learn from years working in the field of evaluation. This collection of stories offers new and seasoned evaluators the opportunity to learn from the mistakes and failures that are all too common in the field of evaluation.” 

Beverly L. Peters
American University

“This is the evaluation book we've been waiting for! A must-read for all learning and working in the field.”

Amanda M. Olejarski
West Chester University

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