The Rucks Group 2020 Summer Newsletter


Many higher education professionals are taking a moment to exhale after a whirlwind experience caused by a most unusual spring semester while also trying to digest an ever-evolving and tumultuous world.

We recently were involved in a conversation with a funder who asked the project team that we are working with, “Given everything around us, does this elevate the importance of program evaluation?” We found this question to be encouraging and motivating.

Program evaluation may seem like a relatively unimportant topic compared to what is swirling around us. Still, through the systematic frame that program evaluation offers, it helps to produce insights for what to do next. At The Rucks Group, our “next” is focusing on identifying solutions to address issues from the perspective of our core competencies. We hope that the resources offered in this newsletter will help you as you determine your “next.”


Coffee Break Webinar Series: Three Part Formula for Writting a Grant Proposal Evaluation.  - July 1, 15, and 29 | 2:00 pm EST

In our increasingly measurement-driven culture, gathering evidence of the difference that an initiative makes is important. Gathering credible evidence of outcomes is an imperative within grant-funded work. Whether you need to write an evaluation plan or review one provided for your project, this webinar series will provide a formula for writing a program evaluation. Webinar participants will come away with an understanding of the evaluation plan elements to scale them for large and small grant proposals.

Wednesdays, July 1, 15, and 29; 2:00pET – 2:30pET


Virtual Career Fair: Connecting Student Career Exploration to Experiential Learning Programs

Example of Columbus State Community College Pivoting to a Virtual Career Fair

We are all deeply aware of the need to “pivot” in these ever-evolving times. Determining the best strategy for how to change directions appropriately can be challenging. We learned about this excellent example of pivoting from an in-person career fair to a virtual one through our work with Columbus State Community College. With their permission, we share this resource, including the language used for disseminating, with our audience.


Additional Resources

HI-TEC 2020 Transformed: The High-Impact Technology Exchange (HI-TEC) Conference is going virtual this year. Look for our session handouts on Using Social Network Analysis to Evaluate the Development of Professional Connectivity with Michael FitzGerald, Ph.D., as the lead presenter in collaboration with Emma Leeburg of EvaluATE. Registration will open soon and is complimentary for the first 350 registrants.


ATE Community Support Webinar: On Wednesday, June 10 at 1:00pET the American Association of Community Colleges, Mentor-Connect, and ATE Central, are sponsoring a webinar intended “to address commonly asked grant management questions.” This webinar is certain to provide lots of great information on to manage current and future NSF ATE grants.


Urban Institute RFPs and RFIs: WorkRise, which is hosted by the Urban Institute, is a research-to-action network forced on jobs, workers, and mobility. WorkRise is seeking request for proposals (RFPs) and request for information (RFIs) to identify research projects in need and funding and “promising, scalable practices” in need of additional support and/or research and evaluation. Responses are due by 11:59pmET, June 29, 2020. 


Highlighted blog posts:

5 Data-Informed Tips for Transitioning from Remote Learning to Online Learning
Reporting Help: Calculating Nearest Person Month
Using Logic Models to Navigate Projects
The Rucks Group 2020 Spring Newsletter


The Rucks Group, LLC is a research and evaluation firm that gathers, analyses, and interprets data to enable our clients to measure the impact of their work. 

Coffee Break Webinar Series: Three-Part Formula for Writing a Grant Proposal Evaluation

In our increasingly measurement-driven culture, gathering evidence of the difference that an initiative makes is important. Gathering credible evidence of outcomes is an imperative within grant-funded work. All too often evaluations of grant-funded initiatives focus on project activities (e.g., outputs) rather than meaningful project impact (e.g., outcomes). Averting this common error is first addressed when writing an evaluation plan for a grant proposal. Whether you need to write an evaluation plan or review one provided for your project, this webinar series will provide a formula for writing a program evaluation plan.  Presented in three-parts, webinar participants will come away with an understanding of the evaluation plan elements to scale them for large and small grant proposals. Time will be allocated to address participants’ specific questions.


Part I: July 1, 2020 2:00p – 2:30p The Foundations: Theory of Change, Logic Models, and  Evaluation Questions The first webinar of the three-part series begins with a brief review of the six key elements that should be included in every evaluation plan. The webinar will then dig into the foundational components of a program evaluation: theory of change, logic models, and evaluation questions.

Part II: July 15, 2020 2:00p – 2:30p The Methods: Evaluation Design and Data Gathering & Analytical Approaches In Part II, building off of the program evaluation foundations, this webinar will focus on the methods of a program evaluation: design, data gathering strategies, and analytical approaches.

Part III:  July 29, 2020 2:00p – 2:30p The Finale: Evaluation Use,  Sharing Findings, and Evaluation Teams In Part III, the final key elements of a program evaluation will be discussed, such as using program evaluation for continuous improvement, reporting to funding agencies, sharing the findings with different audiences, including the necessary personnel involved in the entire process.  Most important, the final segment will pull together all three parts to show participants how to adjust the elements of an evaluation plan to fit the size of the program proposal.

About the Presenter: Lana Rucks, Ph.D., brings to her work nearly two decades of research and evaluation experience. Her extensive knowledge in the design and implementation of research and program evaluations is based on her leadership of dozens of evaluation initiatives. She has evaluated projects funded by federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation and non-profit organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.

Example of Columbus State Community College Pivoting to a Virtual Career Fair

We are all deeply aware of the need to “pivot” in these ever-evolving times. Determining the best strategy for how to change directions appropriately can be challenging. We learned about this excellent example of pivoting from an in-person career fair to a virtual one through our work with Columbus State Community College. With their permission, we share this resource, including the language used for disseminating information with our audience.


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Hello Educator Friends!

We are functioning in a new norm. This means new approaches to education and new opportunities for your students’ futures. As a result of COVID-19, education is quickly transitioning to the virtual arena. This means exploring new approaches to traditional education opportunities such as career fairs, college visits, and classroom presentations. In the wake of this pandemic, now more than ever, Central Ohio is primed for a different kind of worker, one that is equipped with the hands-on skills needed to succeed in STEM, Healthcare and Hospitality fields.

The attached “Virtual Career Fair” digital handbook, is meant to provide students and educators a resource for career exploration in an online space. Students now more than ever, have the capacity from home to explore future opportunities and begin setting a plan in motion. Specifically, this virtual career fair will explore STEM, Healthcare, and Hospitality career fields while highlighting corresponding experiential learning programs offered at Columbus State.

The digital handbook will guide students through a career exploration assessment, talk students through their results, and provide additional information about the following programs:

·       IT Flexible Apprenticeship

·       Modern Manufacturing Work-Study

·       Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts

·       Health Careers Opportunities

Within the handbook you will also find points of contact for educators who want to bring more information about these programs to their students, and contact information for students who want to talk directly with program coordinators. Are your students ready to take the next step to embrace all that Columbus State has to offer?

Admissions is Here to Support You!
At Columbus State, we never stop working to help you meet your educational and career goals – even from a distance. In response to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, we’ve moved all admission, teaching and learning, and student support services to remote delivery. That means you can visit, apply, complete orientation, see your advisor and attend classes online, over the phone and through email.

We invite you to join us for our Virtual Events and One-on-One appointments with an Admissions Representative, which you can access without leaving your house. Visit our Admissions webpage for up-to-date information and to submit your application today.