Just like in classroom teaching and numerous other careers, there is no “typical” day when you’re a program evaluator. Instead, I’ve decided to share some of the activities that I typically do within a week to give you an idea of what my days are like. Most days, I’m at work 8:00 – 5:00, so I’ve got good overlap with the schools and programs that I am evaluating. Three of my programs take place during the typical school day and one of my programs is an evening program for students returning to school to receive their high school diplomas. While a majority of my time is spent at Central Office, I do get to go out to schools some; this will increase as I begin to do more data collection. My mornings are typically the only times that are pretty consistent. When I get to work just before 8:00, I usually make a cup of tea, check through my emails to make sure that I’m caught up, and outline what I need to get accomplished that day. Throughout the week, here are some the typical activities that I do:
- Work on writing or updating evaluation plans
- Writing data collection protocols (surveys, interviews, observation rubrics, etc.)
- Going over the projects and where I am with the director of my department
- Sending out surveys to participants, or sending follow-up reminders and thank you notes
- Analyzing data as it comes in
- Meeting with program directors to go over evaluation plans, data collection instruments, evaluation updates, etc.
- Going to schools to meet with administrators about how their schools will be involved in the evaluation process
- Going to schools to observe grade level team meetings
I’m currently at the unglamorous stage of finishing up evaluation plans and instruments, but I’ve been able to begin some data collection (my favorite part!). I’m excited because I’m at the point where data collection is starting to begin in full-swing, so I’ll be heading out to the schools quite a bit more.
One of the nice things is that there is usually something fun and exciting going on. Leading up to the month of February, many of the people in my department were working on getting ready for the North Carolina Association of Research in Education (NCARE) that took place in downtown Greensboro at the end of February. Five of us went to the pre-conference workshops that took place the night before the conference (the intern in our department, who is a doctoral student in Educational Research Methodology (ERM) at UNCG, even presented at one of the workshops!), and four of us returned for all of the sessions the following day. From WS/FCS, we had people presenting papers and posters about their research. I was able to create a poster about incorporating Geographic Information Systems (GIS) into Educational Evaluation and Research. I had a great time at the conference, and it was wonderful to see all of my friends from my old department at UNCG. In one of the pictures, you can even see that Jonathan, the graduate intern from ERM, and I are hard at work on our WS/FCS evaluations even after the conference was over!
Overall, this is a very different job than I had when I was classroom teaching. I work in a cubicle at Central Office and I’m behind a desk a lot more, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.