ATE 101: Evaluation

All ATE centers and projects recognize the importance of a robust evaluation plan and the benefits of evaluation for individual projects and centers as well as for the ATE program as a whole. While almost every project has some form of evaluation plan built into its NSF proposal, it can help to have support from the community when it comes time to put that plan into action. ATE has several crosscutting projects that offer evaluation support, and plenty of resources from outside ATE can enhance the evaluation component of your project.

Support for Evaluation Within NSF and ATE

These organizations, funded or maintained by NSF, can help you create, refine, and implement your evaluation plan:

EvaluATE promotes the goals of ATE projects and centers to strengthen the program's evaluation knowledge base, expand the use of exemplary evaluation practices, and support the continuous improvement of technician education. The EvaluATE site provides an array of resources to help projects and centers develop and carry out successful evaluation plans. The results from the annual survey of ATE projects and centers can also be found here.

The 2002 User-Friendly Handbook for Project Evaluation
This guide was developed to support those working with the NSF, and provide some basic guidelines for the evaluation of NSF’s educational programs. Its goal is to help grantees that need to learn more about both how to do an evaluation as well as what evaluation can do for the project. It builds on firmly established evaluation principles, combining technical details and common sense to meet the particular needs of NSF grantees and stakeholders.

ATE Central Tip: Put your evaluation specialist in touch with EvaluATE – they can help provide insight into how others in the ATE community are doing evaluation and help connect your evaluator to other project and center evaluation specialists!

Other Resources for Evaluation

There are many valuable resources online to help with building your evaluation plan, and assist in integrating evaluation into the day-to-day management of your project. Here are several high quality resources that may prove helpful for supporting your project or center’s evaluation. Each links to more resources including logic model templates, checklists, and other useful evaluation tools.

Kellogg Foundation
As a funding agency, the W.K. Kellogg foundation is known for supporting human rights and working to improve living conditions for children and adults and funding projects that serve communities and society. Their online publications and resource center provides users with a variety of materials to support successful project management and evaluation.

Evaluating Digital Libraries: A User-Friendly Guide
Supported by funding from the NSF’s NSDL program, this very useful and usable guide (download) helps collection developers and others plan and execute evaluation for digital libraries and collections. With sections on planning, usability evaluation, log analysis, creating surveys and much more, this guide will prove useful for those creating smaller focused collections or for larger resource center projects.