The College of Education has recently established the Auburn Center for Evaluation (ACE). Under the direction of Dr. Daniel Henry, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Technology, the Center will bring together expertise in program evaluation, research design, data analysis, and dissemination of findings to support the implementation and evaluation of education- and industry-related endeavors across the Auburn campus, Alabama, and beyond.
“The need for program evaluation and research support across Alabama is great,” Henry said. “In addition to resources from the College of Education, externally funded projects and philanthropic giving will allow ACE to grow and support larger and more extensive projects, eventually providing a crucial resource to all of Alabama and becoming a relevant voice in the national conversation about education, industry, and social policy.”
The Center for Evaluation will conduct research and evaluation to inform the work of practitioners and policymakers concerning the efficacy of existing programs and the needs of specific populations for improvement of educational and social outcomes. The Center is already in the process of soliciting business and grant opportunities on campus and across the state.
“Evaluation is becoming an increasingly important part of funding for almost all projects and grants, whether in industry, government or education,” said Henry. “Foundations and other grant-making entities want to know if the programs they support are working, and how they could work better to meet their objectives. That is what we do: evaluate programs and guide them toward improved efficacy.”
Henry has a wide range of experience not only as a program evaluator, but also as a grant writer. Prior to coming to Auburn in 2007, Henry was evaluating a variety of programs for large national corporations and educational entities from his position at Indiana University.
“In addition to our existing work in the College of Education with projects such as AMSTI and TEAM Math, we are working with Fisheries. Horticulture, and Engineering, among others on campus. We want to be a one-stop shop for our partners at Auburn University and across Alabama and the Southeast,” Henry said.
The future of program evaluation is bright, according to Henry.
“Every grant has a scoring section of 25 percent as an evaluation component,” he said. “Since ACE will receive its funding by helping our partners prepare successful proposals, we are highly motivated to do great work. I hope and believe the Center will grow and we can provide real-world opportunities to graduate students. Program evaluation is one of the fastest growing job fields in country. The College has already established a certificate in program evaluation, and we hope to one day offer a doctorate in the field. Our long-rage plan is to attract great people and teach them how to do evaluation in a dynamic and competitive environment.”
Successful program evaluation seeks to establish for whom does the program work and under what conditions and to what extent does it work or not work. Program evaluation is relevant to industry, business, government, or any other entity that seeks grant funding.
“We want to give decision-makers information,” Henry said. “We want them to spend their money well in terms of quality and value, especially in a state like Alabama where resources are limited. “
Extension has provided space for the Center, which is scheduled to open later this month
“We are in Duncan Hall on Ag Hill,” Henry said. “I will serve as a consultant for Extension and provide training for them, and continue teaching qualitative research and program evaluation in the College.”
The Center for Evaluation is developing web space on the College of Education page, so please check in with the site for future developments. The projected web address is www.auburn.edu/ace. Henry may also reached by telephone at 334.844.3068.