Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead: Sharing Her Passion for Program Evaluation

Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead is passionate about the field of Program Evaluation. “I believe that evaluations should not only be high quality, but they should be relevant to the purpose, and provide information that is actionable,” she says. In November 2015, she will be sharing that passion with peers from around the world during Global Evaluation Week activities in Kathmandu, Nepal.

BMMoorhead_635112184768704013An assistant professor of Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment and coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Program Evaluation at UConn, Montrosse-Moorhead was the recipient of the 2014 Marcia Guttentag Promising New Evaluator Award from the American Evaluation Association (AEA), which is funding her attendance at the week-long conference. She will be one of the youngest delegates in attendance from across the globe, which is both an indication of her status in the field of Evaluation, and how quickly she got there.

“Globally there has been an increased emphasis on evaluations,” she says. “There have been a number of meetings taking place across the globe. The meeting in Nepal is the culminating event where all of the pieces will come together and plans for moving forward will be formally launched.”

EvalPartners, a major player in the global movement to strengthen evaluation capacity, including systems that are equitable, is co-sponsoring Global Evaluation Week to commemorate the United Nations designation of 2015 as the International Year of Evaluation and to launch its 2016-2020 evaluation agenda.

As co-chair of EvalYouth, a new EvalPartners global initiative to engage young and emerging evaluators (YEE), promote innovation in the evaluation practice of YEE, and serve as mechanism for exchanging learning and knowledge among and for YEE, Montrosse-Moorhead will be helping to launch that initiative and announcing its three-year agenda at the conference.

Delegates to the conference include representatives from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, to name a few. Delegates representing the European Evaluation Society, which has members from Romania, Norway, Portugal, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom, will also be present. The full list of countries in attendance at this meeting can be found here (http://ioce-vopes.wildapricot.org/directory).

“It’s important that conversations around evaluation are not dominated by countries that are bigger or financially stronger,” Montrosse-Moorhead says. “Evaluation practice is tied to context, it’s important that you’re not setting priorities that people can’t agree to or can’t meet. There are quality and ethical standards in the U.S. and around the world that guide evaluation practice – and part of producing high quality evaluations and being ethical is to make sure you’re inclusive of those standards.”

During the Third Conclave of the Community of Evaluators-South Asia, which will be held in conjunction with the Parliamentarians Forum for Development Evaluation during Global Evaluation Week, she will be sharing her expertise and experiences in a presentation titled “Building the Capacity for Evaluation: Stages, Tensions, and Tipping Points in the U.S. Context.”

“I’ve always worked with or for the government – the State Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education – and thought it would be good to offer examples of how evaluations happen in a U.S. context, including how it has shifted over time,” she says. “And also reflect on how the U.S. evaluation context is similar to and different from the evaluation context in other counties. I welcome that kind of feedback on the paper.”

In the classroom, Montrosse-Moorhead uses case studies and examples of practice from her own career to help students develop “evaluative habits of mind,” a term she developed for the skills that go beyond the technical skills evaluators need to know to be able to engage in high-quality, relevant, and actionable evaluation. Now she’ll be able to incorporate lessons learned and feedback from her international colleagues to provide UConn students with a broader context of program evaluation.

Bianca is an assistant professor of Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment at the University of Connecticut, as well as, the coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Program Evaluation.