Building Evaluation Capacity in a Complex World: Practical Lessons for Organization and Project Leaders

May 19th, 2016 | RESEARCH

Today institutional and project leaders are faced with two critical dilemmas: (1) building the capacity to respond to the increasing evaluation and accountability demands of funders and stakeholders; and (2) managing the complexities of interconnected, multifaceted, ongoing institutional and cross-institutional work. These challenges require leaders to go beyond traditional approaches to professional development and consider the complex ways that systems of professionals communicate, interact, and evolve. This report draws from three years of research as part of the National Science Foundation-funded Complex Adaptive Systems as a Model for Network Evaluation (CASNET) project to provide concrete, evidence-based recommendations for professionals seeking to address these challenges. The information is particularly designed for those working to develop evaluation capacity in complex organizations or in projects with multiple partners. However, we believe the recommendations can inform efforts to support evaluation at any scale and might also suggest approaches to other initiatives beyond evaluation capacity building. Similarly, although the CASNET project focused on education professionals working in museums and science centers, we believe the findings may be of relevance to any field grappling with the challenges of supporting evaluation capacity building within complex networks of individuals and institutions.



Team Members

Christopher Cardiel, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Scott Pattison, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Marjorie Bequette, Author, Science Museum of Minnesota
Amy Grack Nelson, Author, Science Museum of Minnesota
Elizabeth Kollmann, Author, Museum of Science, Boston
Sarah Cohn, Author, Science Museum of Minnesota
Christine Reich, Author, Museum of Science, Boston
Gayra Ostgaard Eliou, Author, University of Minnesota


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: NSF PRIME
Award Number: 1228868

Related URLs

Complex Adaptive Systems as a Model for Network Evaluation


Audience: Administration | Leadership | Policymakers | Evaluators | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Engineering | Materials science
Resource Type: Reference Materials | Report
Environment Type: Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Resource Centers and Networks

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This material is supported by National Science Foundation award DRL-2229061, with previous support under DRL-1612739, DRL-1842633, DRL-1212803, and DRL-0638981. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations contained within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

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