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OPE: Office of Postsecondary Education
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Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education -- Guidance on the Role of the Independent Outside Evaluator for a FIPSE Grant

Your independent evaluator must be someone who does not stand to gain personally or professionally from the project results.

The outside evaluator that the project director hires is responsible for the following activities:

  1. Attending the first Project Directors’ Meeting with the project director in order to attend the session on evaluating a FIPSE grant.

  2. Assisting the project director in completing the initial evaluation plan/chart, due three months after the start of the grant. This includes:

    • Assisting the project director in fine-tuning the main goals and objectives for the project.
    • Offering advice as to which project objectives would lend themselves most readily to measurement and evaluation.
    • Offering advice as to which baseline data should be collected.
    • Offering advice on the type of measurement instruments that could be used – e.g., surveys, student journals, standardized tests, interviews, focus groups, analysis of e-portfolios or capstone projects, cost-benefit analyses, etc.
    • Offering advice about data collection from a possible comparison or control group.
    • Offering advice as to the timing of data collection.
    • Assisting the project director in designing a plan so that initial results feed back into the project design as the project matures. At what point should the project administrators review preliminary evaluation findings and make decisions about whether to modify program activities? What project activities could be modified midstream if necessary?
    • Offering advice on how project directors might disseminate evaluation results to interested parties.

  3. Assisting the project director in designing the evaluation instruments. Ideally this would include making the project director aware of applicable evaluation instruments that others have used which could serve as models or bases of comparison.

  4. The outside evaluator writes the Evaluation Reports. Annual and Final Evaluation Reports are sent to the project director who attaches them to the Annual Project Reports as separate documents.

The project director and the outside evaluator should work jointly on:

  • Analysis of the assessment data that are collected.

The project director is responsible for:

  1. Baseline evaluation data collection.
  2. Project evaluation data collection.
  3. Implementing any changes in the project as a result of preliminary evaluation findings.
  4. Submitting the Annual and Final Evaluation Reports that the outside evaluator has written.
  5. Disseminating evaluation results to interested parties on and off campus.

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Last Modified: 11/23/2010