How Are We Doing? The Role of Evaluation in IIE’s Programs

Like many nonprofits that have an international reach and run several large and varying programs, IIE faces the everyday challenge of how best to assess the effectiveness and impact of its work. Our program evaluation services, offered through IIE’s Center of Academic Mobility Research, have grown rapidly in response to this need!  Our evaluation team at the Center has extensive experience in all levels of a program evaluation, from measuring program outputs and outcomes to longer-term studies to identify participant and community impacts over time.

In this post, we feature some of the key evaluation projects from IIE’s Center for Academic Mobility Research:

More and more programs at IIE are recognizing the importance of integrating program evaluation into the program cycle. The Center’s experience has been integral in helping programs identify key measures of success and map evaluation designs for program outcomes and impacts.

Cargill Global Scholars Program: We have been working with the Cargill Global Scholars Program to integrate formative and summative evaluation into the program design.  We are administering baseline surveys with the Cargill Scholars at their program orientations to measure their program expectations, goals, and base leadership skills at the beginning of the program. We hope to measure these skills over time to identify changes in participant learning and behavior.  In addition, we are also working with the mentors to identify their program expectations. As the program progresses, we will study the relationships that these scholars and mentors build and the professional networks that they will create.

Higher Education Readiness (HER) Program: One of our most ambitious evaluations began this spring with the Higher Education Readiness (HER) Program in Ethiopia, an IIE Initiative. The HER pilot is a comprehensive program for female students at the secondary level that includes both a financial scholarship and leadership and enrichment components. The Center is implementing a quasi-experimental design in which we are monitoring the academic and professional outcomes of the HER girls against the outcomes of a comparison group that is not part of the program. Since the HER program in Ethiopia is a pilot initiative, it is crucial to measure the expected outcomes in comparison to the status quo, particularly the outcomes related to the academic achievements of the program participants. The evaluation team will control for differences between the HER and comparison groups using a difference-in-difference (DD) analysis. The progress of the two groups will be monitored on variables of interest to compare the changes between the groups over time. Follow the HER Program on their IIE Blog.

Our work has led not only to more recognition at IIE but also to presentation opportunities at the upcoming American Evaluation Association (AEA) conference in Washington, DC October 14 – 19, 2013.  We will be chairing two panel sessions on October 19: Designing Longitudinal Studies of International Scholarship and Fellowship Programs and Equity-focused Evaluation in International Contexts.