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Wednesday, 30 April 2014 20:54

Increasing opportunities for evaluation education

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The core mandate of the Consortium of Universities for Evaluation Education (CUEE) is to grow capacity in Canada to meet the need for competent evaluation professionals. Part of realizing our goal is to make evaluation education more portable among CUEE members.

The CUEE is undertaking a project to identify and approve graduate-level courses that students can access from their home institution. For example, if a student in the Graduate Diploma in Public Policy and Evaluation at Carleton University wants to take one or more courses offered as part of the online Graduate Certificate in Evaluation at the University of Victoria), our Student Accessibility Project will pre-approve such courses toward their own program and set aside spaces in the UVic courses. CUEE represents a diverse group of graduate programs from coast to coast that offer evaluation courses and credential programs in a variety of disciplines.

Seven universities are currently participating in the Student Accessibility Project (Carleton, École nationale d'administration publique, Université du Québec à Montréal, University of Ottawa, University of Saskatchewan, University of Victoria and University of Waterloo). We aim to increase that number next year. Because some universities offer their courses online and some face-to-face (there has been more emphasis on online learning over time), students will have opportunities to vary their learning experiences.

For our project, participating members have identified the rules and processes for seeking transfer credit at their universities. Typically, each university requires approvals from both the home program and the host program for each course taken. We are streamlining that by comparing all our courses and deciding which ones will be acceptable in the home programs of participating students. Because universities typically favour their own students over visiting students, we are also working out how much capacity to receive visiting students each course will have.

In the fall of 2014, the list of courses available for transfer credit among participating universities will be posted on the CUEE website. Information will be provided regarding when, where, and how the courses will be delivered (face-to-face, online or as hybrid courses), the number of seats available for visiting students over the next two years and the procedures required to secure permission(s) to take these courses. The CUEE Secretariat, located at the University of Victoria, will maintain this up-to-date list of evaluation courses available for transfer credit.

From a student’s perspective, it will be possible to look at our website to see what courses are available where in each semester and whether those courses will be accepted for credit in their program. From a faculty and student perspective, the course approval process will be transparent. The Secretariat at UVic will work with CUEE members to address barriers and facilitate students’ access to these courses.

Initially we are focusing on making course transfers easier. As we gain experience, we will look for additional ways to build our evaluation education and training capacity. For example, CUEE members could combine to jointly offer evaluation credentials for students or for cohorts of mid-career practitioners. There is a wealth of specialized knowledge and experience among faculty across the country and students will benefit by being able to select courses on topics taught by faculty specialists.

CUEE, together with the Canadian Evaluation Society (CES), is committed to increasing the number of qualified professional evaluators in Canada. The Credentialed Evaluator (CE) designation offered by CES includes an expectation that successful applicants demonstrate their evaluation skills and knowledge. Completing a graduate credential in evaluation at a Canadian university can satisfy the educational requirement for the CE designation.

Why should deputy ministers care about this project? Canada is the leader now in taking concrete steps to professionalize evaluation practice. Canadian universities are playing an important role in this process. New and mid-career practitioners must be able to access rigorous and practical evaluation training and earn academic credits for their good work. Our Student Accessibility Project is an important step in achieving this goal.

 

For detailed profiles featuring descriptions of specific evaluation courses and credential programs offered by CUEE member institutions, please visit our website: www.evaluationeducation.ca.


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James McDavid and Theresa Hunter

Dr. James McDavid is Professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Victoria, and leads the CUEE Secretariat (jmcdavid@uvic.ca). Theresa Hunter is a doctoral candidate and the coordinator and researcher for the CUEE Secretariat (thunter@uvic.ca).

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