Lunch Break Webinar Series: So, What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? A Look Into a Unique, Meaningful Career for Curious Minds

Join us for a Lunch Break Webinar on Thursday, November 04, 2021 12:00p– 1:00p EDT

What are my interests? What are my skills? What type of training do I need? These are some of the questions students often ask themselves when considering their future career opportunities.

In this 1-hour Lunch Break Webinar, So What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? A Look into a Unique, Meaningful Career for Curious Minds we invite students to an introduction of a unique and meaningful career path that many individuals are unaware of – Research + Program Evaluation.

In this webinar, we will:

    1. Answer questions such as, what program evaluation is; why it is important; how you do it; and where it is practiced.
    2. Demonstrate how you may have already been impacted by program evaluation.
    3. Discuss important qualities of researchers and evaluators as well as educational and experiential tips for preparing for a career in program evaluation; and
    4. Introduce students to internship opportunities with The Rucks Group.

 

If you’re someone who’s interested in working with data, or maybe you’re just curious by nature, then this webinar is for you.

Not able to attend the live event? Register anyway and we will send you the recording when it becomes available.

About the Presenters:

Alyssa McKinney-Hokky

Research Associate, The Rucks Group

Alyssa McKinney-Hokky joined The Rucks Group in April 2021 with more than four years of experience in STEM fieldwork and more than three years of experience in informal STEM education. Prior to joining the firm, she worked within various nonprofit and government agencies to aid in grant-funded project execution, database management, and data analyses. At The Rucks Group, she utilizes her skills to provide direct support for evaluators through statistical analyses, database management, reporting, and focus group and interview transcription. Ms. McKinney-Hokky holds a bachelor’s degree in the biological sciences with a minor in psychology from Ohio Wesleyan University. She is currently pursuing a professional science master’s degree through the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

Julia Siwierka, Ph.D.

Director of Research and Evaluation Services, The Rucks Group

Dr. Siwierka joined The Rucks Group in 2018 and during her tenure has become a key member of The Rucks Group team. In her new role, she will focus on maximizing The Rucks Group’s processes for high standards to ensure consistency and excellence on the firm’s full portfolio of projects. Prior to her advancement, she served as a Research and Evaluation Associate with the firm. In this role she was involved in designing, facilitating, and analyzing data using mixed methods; creating evaluation plans; reporting findings and recommendations to clients; and engaging with clients as collaborators in evaluations. Dr. Siwierka has several years of experience in program evaluation and applied research methods within educational and youth organizations and community-based initiatives. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Theatre Arts at Dominican University and a master’s and doctorate degree in community psychology from Wichita State University.

Lana J. Rucks

Lana J. Rucks, Ph.D.

Principal Consultant, The Rucks Group

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.

Coffee Break Webinar Series: Making Your Project “Change-Quake-Proof”

Join us for our next Coffee Break Webinar on Tuesday, October 05, 2021 2:00p– 2:30p EDT

Physical structures are built in a way that makes them earthquake-proof so that when an earthquake occurs, there is less likelihood of major damage to the structure. In a similar vein, as project teams strive to implement ambitious visions that require changes at the organization and systems levels, they need to consider how to implement plans that are “change-quake” proof. In this coffee break webinar, we are pleased to feature Elizabeth McIntyre, Director of the Tristate Energy and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Consortium. She has extensive experience in implementing “elastic” change initiatives. In this coffee break webinar, you will learn:

      • How to create initiatives that are resilient
      • What perspectives help leaders catalyze change
      • How to manage partnerships effectively

About the Presenters:

Elizabeth M. McIntyre

Elizabeth M. McIntyre

Director, Tristate Energy and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Consortium

As Director of the TEAM Consortium Elizabeth “Betsy” McIntyre is responsible for coordinating the activities of a diverse set of public and private entities including institutions of higher education, workforce boards, industry partners, and state officials. The goal of Consortium is to ensure an adequate supply of properly skilled workers for a targeted 27-county region in southeast Ohio, northern West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania. Before returning to this area a few years ago, Ms. McIntyre served as Vice President of Commonwealth Corporation, a $43 million quasi-public agency in Massachusetts. In this role she was responsible for diversifying the funding base for statewide workforce development programs, as well as for policy development, communications, and program implementation for sector-based industry initiatives.

Lana J. Rucks

Lana J. Rucks

Principal Consultant, The Rucks Group

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.

The Rucks Group 2021 Summer Newsletter


The Rucks Group - Innovation through Revelation - Summer 2021 E-Newsletter

Join Our Next Coffee Break Webinar at 2:00p EDT on June 17

Thursday, June 17, 2021 2:00-2:30p EDT

With many grant proposals’ due dates just around the corner, we are offering an update on our formula for writing an evaluation plan.

The evaluation section continues to be an important component of a grant proposal. As such, we have previously introduced a formula for how to write an effective evaluation plan for a grant proposal. In this webinar, we share our updated formula and lessons we have gleaned over the past year of working with dozens of project teams. We build on those lessons for insights on how to increase the potential for you to garner grant funding.


Project Leader Highlights Work with Rucks Group Evaluators

If you have followed any of our blogs, webinars, or other resources, you have probably noticed how firmly The Rucks Group values a collaborative relationship with a project team to cultivate project innovation. Columbus State Community College’s (CSCC) Project Manager David Cofer draws from his experiences working with The Rucks Group evaluators, Drs. Michael FitzGerald and Julia Siwierka, to argue the importance and impact of a collaborative atmosphere in his blogpost Innovation & Cooperative Evaluation on EvaluATE’s website. EvaluATE is the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) evaluation resource hub. In Mr. Cofer’s blog, he also addresses the four components of cooperative evaluation that are instrumental in enriching any project: continuous improvement, evaluation co-creators, challenging norms, and becoming culturally ingrained.
For more information on collaborative (cooperative) evaluation, check out David Cofer’s blog on EvaluATE


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seeks Researchers with Technology Backgrounds


Using Social Network Analysis to Evaluate Connections among Stakeholders

Mapping and measuring the structure and development of the connections between educators, industry partners, and other stakeholders is an integral component to attaining project success and developing a skilled technical workforce.

EvaluATE published a blog written by The Rucks Group’s Senior Research and Evaluation Associate, Dr. Michael FitzGerald, that addresses the role of Social Network Analysis (SNA) in helping a project team to understand the interconnectedness of networks. This method is appropriate in an evaluation of the individuals, groups, or other entities involved in a particular network towards measuring the strength, frequency, and closeness of these relational ties. If you would like to learn more about this method, please click “View Blog” below.


Highlighted Resources



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. 

The Rucks Group 2021 Spring Newsletter


Get a Grip! Tips to Ease Annual Report Anxiety

Thursday, April 22, 2021 2:00-2:30p EDT

Receiving grant funds to implement an innovative initiative can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. The usual responsibilities—and self-doubts—can intensify as the annual report deadline approaches. How do you start? What details do you include? Are just two of the discomforting questions that come with tackling an annual report.

Even when a funder provides a template, it does not necessarily simplify the process of fitting the unique aspects of what is happening on the ground with your program into a set format. Defuse your anxiety by attending The Rucks Group’s Annual Report webinar. In 30 minutes, you will learn what most funders, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) in particular, want to know from grantees.


Solutions to Transforming to a Remote Space


Join the Working Partners Team and The Rucks Group Spring 2021 Working Partners Workshop.

As a partner to the Working Partners team, we are pleased to share information about an upcoming event to offer a collaborative, interactive professional development opportunity designed to support ATE community members with identifying, assessing, and planning for successful industry-education partnerships. The free 8-week workshop will be held from May 23, 2021 – July 20, 2021.

Workshop Details:

  • Live Sessions on Tuesdays from 3:00p – 4:30p EDT: Presentations, expert panel discussion, Q & A, interactive exercises, learning together, and more!
  • Canvas Cohort Hub: Resources, planning guides, cohort support, announcements, recordings, exercise submissions, and more available 24/7 on the Canvas online course site.
  • Hi-Tech Conference Registration: The workshop’s final live session will be held on Tuesday, July 20, just prior to the July 21 & 22 HI-TECH virtual conference. Participants who complete the workshop will be provided up to four free registrations to the conference.

For more information, click the Learn More button below.


Kathleen Lis Dean Joins The Rucks Group

We are pleased to announce a new member of The Rucks Group. Kathleen Lis Dean, Ph.D., joined the team from the Cleveland area in January 2021. As a Senior Research and Evaluation Associate, she provides insights to clients to help them attain intended improvements and program impacts.
Prior to joining The Ruck Group, Dr. Dean spent 20 years in evaluation and strategic leadership roles at higher education, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, where she leveraged qualitative and quantitative data to support organizational effectiveness, outcomes assessment, accreditation, strategic planning, and continuous improvement.


Growth Comes with New Location

New opportunities this year have seeded a new home as well as growth at The Rucks Group. While most of our team continues to work remotely due to COVID-19, we have moved our offices to the 130 Building in the bustling center of Dayton’s Business District.
 
Please update our contact information in your records:

Physical Address:

130 W. Second Street; Suite 1050 Dayton, OH 45402

Payment Remittance Address:
P.O. Box 24655 Dayton, OH 45424

Additional Contact Info:
(p) 937-242-7024
(f)  937-242-7026
(e) info@therucksgroup.com (w) therucksgroup.com


Highlighted Resources



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: Demystifying Evaluation Planning for Grant Proposals

In preparation for the upcoming grant writing season, we are offering an update on our formula for writing an evaluation plan.

The evaluation section continues to be an important component of a grant proposal. As such, we have previously introduced a formula for how to write an effective evaluation plan for a grant proposal. In this webinar, we share our updated formula and lessons we’ve gleaned over the past year of working with dozens of project teams. We build on those lessons for insights on how to increase the potential for you to garner grant funding.

In this 30-minute webinar we’ll:

  • Discuss what to review in a grant solicitation to aid in the development of the evaluation, making sure that all team members are aware of these key elements.
  • Suggest how to address unique situations and spacing issues particularly for large grants with tight word counts for proposals.
  • Use funders’ reviews to inform that next draft of the proposal (Resubmission is key. If you can resubmit, do it!)
  • Answer your questions.

For an optimal learning experience, we encourage you to review our Three-Part Formula for Writing a Grant Proposal Evaluation.

Date: Thursday, June 17, 2021
Time: 2:00 – 2:30p EDT
Presenter: Lana Rucks, Ph.D.
Cost: Complimentary

Not able to attend the live event? Register anyway and we’ll send you a link for the webinar recording when it’s available.

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.

Coffee Break Webinar Series: Get a grip! Tips to Ease Annual Report Anxiety

 

Receiving grant funds to implement an innovative initiative can both be exhilarating and nerve-wracking. The usual responsibilities—and self-doubts—can intensify as the annual report deadline approaches.

How do you start? What details do you include? Are just two of the discomforting questions that come with tackling an annual report. Even when a funder provides a template, it does not necessarily simplify the process of fitting the unique aspects of what is happening on the ground with your program into a set format. Defuse your anxiety by attending the Rucks Group’s Annual Report webinar. In 30 minutes you will learn what most funders, and the National Science Foundation in particular, want to know from grantees.

Our free webinar will cover:

  • what you should definitely include in your program’s annual report;
  • how to leverage the evaluation report to tell your program’s story;
  • how to set up a timeline and complete tasks incrementally to reduce procrastination for on-time submission; and
  • NSF expectations for annual reports.

 

Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Time: 2:00 – 2:30p EDT
Presenter: Lana Rucks, Ph.D.
Cost: Complimentary

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.

The Rucks Group 2021 Winter Newsletter


Moving Forward: A Year to Look Forward

I have heard it joked that 2020 was a year written by Stephen King and directed by Quentin Tarantino. We laugh at that idea because we understand that 2020, to put it mildly, was a year filled with the unexpected. It is why, even though intellectually we know there is not a substantive difference between December 31, 2020, and January 1, 2021, we yearned for that calendar change.

Now that it is 2021, our wish is that 2021 becomes the dawn after the storm and that this year will be brighter and better than the last one.


The Rucks Group Coffee Break Webinar

Program Evaluation in Practice: A Case Study of Central State University’s STEM Success Center

Program Evaluation in Practice: A Case Study of Central State University’s STEM Success Center

Thursday, February 4th, 2021 at 2:00p-2:30p EDT

Evaluation plays a critical role in providing feedback that allows project owners and project teams to make evidence-based decisions about the project and use evaluation findings to persuade decision with an institution. 

In our next coffee break series webinar, The Rucks Group is pleased to partner with Central State University’s Dr. Morakinyo Kuti, Project Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s funded STEM Success Center. In this webinar, we will demonstrate how the elements of evaluation coalesced to enhance the implementation of the project. Participants will walk away with an enriched understanding of how evaluation through continuous improvement, can enhance grant-funded work. These concepts include:

  • How to use program evaluation and associated best practices;
  • How program evaluation helps to achieve the goals of a project; and
  • And how program evaluation can aid in sustaining and institutionalizing aspects of a project.


Carla Clasen Retires (A Second Time) From The Rucks Group

We are at once delighted and disheartened to announce the retirement of Carla Clasen, M.P.H., R.N.. With over 30 years of program evaluation experience, at the end of 2020, Carla decided to retire (for the second time) and relocate from Ohio to Minnesota to be closer to family.

Carla joined The Rucks Group as a Senior Research and Evaluation Associate in 2013. In that capacity, she worked on a wide variety of projects from a survey of Ohio boaters to a maternal and child home visiting evaluation and of course, our mainstay projects related to workforce development and student success. Throughout her career, she supported the evaluation community by serving on the board of the Ohio Program Evaluators’ Group and as a member of the American Evaluation Association. Carla made important contributions to the quality of our work and the culture of our team. She will be missed.

Carla Classen


Reporting Help: How to Calculate the Nearest Person Months

As a reliable and trusted source for program evaluation, we often get a lot of questions on related topics such as reporting issues. One questions we often get is:

“I’m working on my annual report for my National Science Foundation grant, and they are asking for personnel time spent in ‘person months’. How do I calculate this?”

Visit our resources center on our website to use this tool to assist you in your reporting needs.


Review The Rucks Group’s Previous Coffee Break Webinars

Our coffee break webinars are succinct learning opportunities focused on addressing program evaluation topics relevant to grant writers and project owners. We encourage you to visit our website to take advantage of these resources and review key concepts of evaluation that will impact your initiatives. Feedback from participants indicates that individuals find the information shared to be extremely useful:

“I continue to be impressed with how well organized your

thinking is around these topics that can be quite ‘squishy’. Watching your presentations helps me organize my own thinking.”

“I like the length of these webinars.

It’s easy to fit them into my schedule and they provide useful information.”

“I very much enjoyed the series and will keep an eye out for future webinars from your organization! Oftentimes, evaluation webinars speak in generalities; yours offered very concrete information. I appreciated your approach very much.”



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: Program Evaluation in Practice: A Case Study of Central State University’s STEM Success Center

Program Evaluation in Practice: A Case Study of Central State University’s STEM Success Center

Join us for our next Coffee Break Webinar on Thursday, February 04, 2021 2:00PM – 2:30PM. EDT.

Evaluation plays a critical role in providing feedback that allows project owners and project teams to make evidence-based decisions about the project and use evaluation findings to persuade decision with an institution.

In our next coffee break series webinar, The Rucks Group is pleased to partner with Central State University’s Dr. Morakinyo Kuti, Project Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s funded STEM Success Center. In this webinar, we will demonstrate how the elements of evaluation coalesced to enhance the implementation of project. Participants will walk away with an enriched understanding of how evaluation through continuous improvement, can enhance in grant-funded work. These concepts include:

  • How to use program evaluation and associated best practices;
  • How program evaluation helps to achieve the goals of a project;
  • And how program evaluation can aid in sustaining and institutionalizing aspects of a project.

About the Presenters:

Dr. Morakinyo A.O. Kuti

Dr. Morakinyo A.O. Kuti, is the Director of Sponsored Programs and Research and also the Director of the Center for Academic Research and Innovation at Central State University (CSU) in Wilberforce, Ohio. He has a demonstrated record of success facilitating positive outcomes for underrepresented students, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Over 1,700 students have been positively impacted through Dr. Kuti’s programs with 300 entering the workforce or graduate studies. He has administered $161 million in public and private funds since 2005. Also, Dr. Kuti has secured over $11 million that have enhanced CSU’s physical infrastructure, enabled faculty research and scholarly activities, and provided students with scholarships and experiential learning opportunities. Dr. Kuti was the recipient of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities 1890 Universities Career Exemplar Awards for distinguished alumni.  He is a member of Pi Alpha Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration.

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.

Coffee Break Webinar Series: 5 Best Practices for Hiring the Right Evaluation Partner

Webinar: 5 Best practices for Hiring the Right Evaluation Partner

Join us for our next Coffee Break Webinar on Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM. EDT.

Evaluators play an important role in framing and facilitating the evaluation but Identifying the right evaluation partner can be quite challenging. As such, there are many issues to consider when you attempt to identify an evaluator such as finding anntity that aligns with the philosophical approach of the project team and the projects’ needs, working with someone who is responsive and overall qualified, and the management of the internal procurement policies. Because of these varied factors, there are many opportunities for the process to go awry, leaving you feeling apprehensive about the entire process.

In this coffee break webinar, Dr. Lana Rucks will draw from her near 20 years of experience in program evaluation to provide five best practices and tips that can aid in the process and ultimately lead to a successful working relationship with an evaluator. All grant writers and project personnel are encouraged to attend!

For the most beneficial experience, we strongly encourage you to review the Now What? How to Use Program Evaluation Findings for Project Continuous Improvement and Developmental Evaluation: What is it? How do you do it? webinars where we introduce key concepts appearing in this webinar.

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.

The Rucks Group 2020 Fall Newsletter


This fall feels simultaneously family and unfamiliar.

If you are like us at The Rucks Group, you are busy finalizing annual reports and working on new grant proposals. All quite normal for this time of year. But this fall, we are doing this while working remotely alongside our family members who are working remotely and our children who are remotely going to school. Even though we have been in this space for months, it still feels just a little bit different.

While we cannot do much about the unfamiliar context we are operating in, we can support the otherwise familiar tasks. Given the breadth of funding opportunities, in this newsletter, we are featuring resources that are relevant to the development of innovations.

As always, if we can be a resource in any way, do not hesitate to reach out to us at info@therucksgroup.com.


Webinar on Grant Proposal Evaluation Plans:

This past July, The Rucks Group offered a three-part webinar series to provide a formula for writing an evaluation plan for a grant proposal. Here’s what participants shared about the series:

“I appreciated how the process of creating the evaluation was broken down into steps and how the logic model was explained as being a pictorial representation of the theory of change.”

“[The webinar] was well organized and a good introduction with very usable pointers.”

To review the webinars, visit our newly launched resources page. The page will be continually updated, so we encourage you to frequently visit it. 


Broadening Participation in STEM:

The National Science Foundation Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (NSF INCLUDES) recently released a research brief highlighting evidence-based strategies to broaden participation in STEM. This document serves as a reference guide for project teams striving to increase the participation of students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.


Webinar on NSF ATE Grant Proposal Evaluation Plans:

EvaluATE, the evaluation resource center for the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) community, recently hosted a webinar on evaluation plans for NSF ATE proposals. In this webinar, EvaluATE shares “some of the biggest mistakes made in evaluation plans for ATE proposals and how to fix them.”


Join Us for Our Next Coffee Break Webinar

Webinar - Developmental Evaluation: What is it? How do you do it? Facilitated by Lana Rucks.

Thursday, September 10; 2:00pET – 2:30pET

Developmental evaluations apply evaluation principles to nascent innovations and complex systems. This approach is useful for evaluating new initiatives as evidenced by the Department of Labor’s solicitation for Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants promulgating a developmental or adaptive evaluation approach into the grant-funded work.

In this webinar, we will introduce the key concepts of developmental evaluation and explain how to use them by walking through a Department of Labor-funded project that used developmental evaluation. Participants will leave the webinar with a better understanding of what developmental evaluation is and how it is applied.


Focusing on Student Success

Student success is directly or indirectly central to educators’ work and related grant projects. As such, we invite you to read a recently published EDUCAUSE blog, Student Success in a Changing World. In this highly informative article, authors Steven Mauro and Terry Mills present a model for driving student success that applies to our current remote learning environment. Dr. Mills is a previous guest blogger with The Rucks Group.


Highlighted Blog Posts:

Student Success Part I: Are we clear about what this means? by guest blogger Dr. Terry Mills
Student Success Part II: How is it defined and what promotes it?
Obtaining Credible Evidence of “Long” Long-Term Outcomes

Coffee Break Webinar Series: Developmental Evaluation: What is it? How do you do it?

Join us for our next Coffee Break Webinar on Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 2:00p.m. – 2:30p.m. EDT.

Developmental evaluations apply evaluation principles to nascent innovations and complex systems. This approach is useful for evaluating new initiatives as evidenced by the Department of Labor’s solicitation for Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants prescribing a developmental or adaptive evaluation to be incorporated into the grant funded work.

In this webinar, we will introduce the key concepts of developmental evaluation and explain how to use them by walking through a Department of Labor-funded project that used developmental evaluation. Participants will leave the webinar with a better understanding of what developmental evaluation is and how it is applied.

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.

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.”


Join Our Next Coffee Break Webinar

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

In our increasingly measurement-driven culture, gathering evidence of the difference that an initiative makes is important. Gathering credible evidence of outcomes is 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.


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


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.

The Rucks Group 2020 Spring Newsletter


By now you have heard, discussed, and thought dozens of times how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to abandon familiar rhythms of life. The Rucks Group team is doing the same.

We have been asking ourselves what resources can we provide to help the adjustment as it relates to the slice of life that we work in of research and evaluation.  As such, we’re highlighting a variety of resources and information on upcoming events that you may find useful as we all are slowly finding the beats to new rhythms.


Join Our Next Coffee Break Webinar

webinar - now what?
Thursday, April 30, 2020; 2:00pET – 2:30pET

You’ve won the grant and now you’re needing to do a program evaluation. There are two general mindsets towards this work: “proving” to demonstrate to funders what you’ve done or “improving” which addresses the proving by focusing the program evaluation on using the information from the program evaluation for project improvement. This complimentary webinar will provide insights into how to realize the true value of evaluation through the lens of continuous improvement and particularly given the COVID-19 pandemic. Time will be allotted to answer your unique questions. 


Funding Opportunities for Your Innovative Ideas

Proposal

There are several funding opportunities that you can pursue to identify funding for your innovative ideas. One such program is the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program places an emphasis on the education of technicians within two-year institutions. Proposals are due by October 1, 2020.

In writing your grant, make sure to review the most recent solicitation for the appropriate program track. A focus area of note is the Adaptation and Implementation program track which is “designed to increase the pace of innovation diffusion and encourages the use of innovative materials and practices of demonstrated course and programs.” 

Also, the NSF DUE (Division of Undergraduate Education) is particularly interested in how the COVID-19 is impacting undergraduate education. This is quite fitting considering how many schools had to rapidly transition to completing courses online.

Finally, note that NSF’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) grants are now due on April 22, 2020 (and change from the original March 25, 2020 date).


If you want resources to help develop your ideas, check out these websites:

ATECentral logo

Supporting Advanced Technological Education
EvaluATE logo

The evaluate resource hub for the NSF ATE community
Mentor Connect Logo
NSF ATE leadership development and outreach initiative

Browse our most popular blog posts below:

Partnership Rubric: A tool for measuring industry relationships
The Partnership Rubric was designed as a tool to quantify the involvement of outside partners in a given project or center by measuring the changes in the number of and level of involvement of those partnerships in targeted areas. 

Student Success: Are we clear about what this means? 
In this two-part blog on student success, we are first sharing this article in which guest blogger Dr. Terry Mills provides his perspective. In the second blog on this topic, Dr. Lana Rucks will provide a perspective of a researcher and program evaluator on this key issue.

Paying Students to Attend Tutoring Produces Interesting Findings 
Students who received the stipend for attending tutoring sessions had the lowest failure rates and earned the highest percentage of As.