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OPE: Office of Postsecondary Education
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Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education -- What a FIPSE Evaluation Report is NOT

The Evaluation Report is NOT:

  1. An analysis of your budget and spending activities. The only time this information would be relevant to include in an evaluation report would be if one of your main goals is to improve cost efficiencies.
  2. An An accounting of your program activities, except as they are relevant to any assessment of learning outcomes, professional development, or organizational restructuring.
  3. A student or faculty satisfaction survey. (Statements of satisfaction with program activities may be contained in the Annual or Final Performance Reports written by the project director.)
  4. A feel-good essay about your particular educational innovation. Don’t assert that your innovative approach is valuable, instead provide evidence. (For the sake of this report, please assume that the reader of your report is highly skeptical about your project’s goals and design.)
  5. A place for vague assertions. We want to avoid evaluation reports that sound like the following:
During the past year, we have worked to perfect our model. Now we can claim with confidence that the consortium is functioning with great efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity. Faculty members from the participating institutions have developed a wonderful rapport and their individual institutions remain strongly committed to the program. Interactions among the schools run smoothly. Student credit transfers, for example, take place without a hitch. To conclude, we continue to meet our stated objectives, and, more importantly, we are able to offer our students an invaluable experience.
  • What model are they perfecting?
  • What data have they provided to back up their claims of great effectiveness?
  • We are glad they all get along, and credit is being transferred smoothly, but this information has no business being in an evaluation report. It should be in the Annual Performance Report.
  • What stated objectives are being met?
  • This paragraph gives us no information with which to independently judge whether students are receiving invaluable experiences. We just have to take their word for it.
  • Would a skeptic find this report to be convincing evidence of the value of the project?

A FIPSE Evaluation Report IS:

  1. An opportunity to document educational outcomes for postsecondary students or professional development for those working in the field of postsecondary education, including changes in learning patterns, attitudes, and behaviors, and acquisition of knowledge or skills. If your project impacts K-12 students or teachers, you may discuss that here, but it should not be the sole focus of your evaluation since FIPSE grants are to improve postsecondary education.
  2. The evaluation may also include assessment of other outcomes, particularly if the project aims to change organizational structures, create cost efficiencies, or achieve other ends not specifically represented by learning.
  3. An opportunity for YOU to learn. Project directors should consult with the outside evaluator to review findings as the project develops so that appropriate changes can be made to the project.
  4. An opportunity to show FIPSE your research instruments – surveys, interview questions, etc. Please include a copy of original instruments with your report. That way if we see that you are asking intriguing questions that might work well in assessing other projects, we can add your questions to a list of suggestions for others. (We will never make your research instruments public without prior permission from you. You also retain the copyright for your original research instruments.) If you are using established assessment tools, please provide a brief description of the tool. This is particularly important if it is a field-specific assessment test.
  5. An opportunity for you to be specific about who benefited the most and the least from your project as you designed it – e.g., sophomores or seniors, men or women, those in community colleges or those at large research institutions, those who are new to your field or those who have already completed several prerequisite courses in your field, etc.
  6. An opportunity for you to explain what revisions, improvements, or enhancements you would make, funding permitting, to increase the value of this project in the future. If you have ideas about how to make projects like yours more cost-effective, that information will be valuable for others to know.
  7. An opportunity for you to briefly mention any policy implications of your findings. These may be implications for policy on campus, at similar institutions, state-wide, or nationally.

You will NOT be penalized for frankly identifying things that need improvement or did not work as hoped. On the contrary, such insightful analysis will be viewed positively because it helps us to advise other grantees in the future. FIPSE funds innovation and we understand that there is some risk involved in that endeavor.

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Last Modified: 11/30/2010