Strategic Planning and Evaluation Branch, Office of Strategic Planning, Initiative Development, and Analysis (OSPIDA), NIAID, NIH
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) leads research to understand, treat, and prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. To address evolving program requirements, NIAID staff often evaluate their programs. NIAID’s Strategic Planning and Evaluation Branch (SPEB) provides institutional leadership for systematic, trans-NIAID strategic planning, evaluation, and policy analysis to advance NIAID’s mission. As part of its program evaluation services, SPEB offers evaluation-related training and educational opportunities to NIAID staff. In order to better address staff needs, SPEB wanted to determine training topics that NIAID staff would find beneficial and address any gaps in existing evaluation-related training opportunities.
Ripple Effect conducted a mixed-methods needs assessment in collaboration with SPEB. This assessment consisted of a literature review of best practices, as well as primary quantitative and qualitative data collection and analyses. As a part of this effort, Ripple Effect collected data through a customized online survey completed by NIAID staff. Survey data revealed staff attitudes toward evaluation methodologies and preferences for future evaluation trainings. Ripple Effect also conducted three focus groups with a sample of NIAID staff who represented a range of program evaluation experience, as well as external program evaluation. Overall, these focus groups allowed for an in-depth perspective about perceptions and opinions related to evaluation training needs and recommendations.
Based on the findings from this mixed-method approach, Ripple Effect designed and administered an Evaluation 101 Training course to NIAID staff on two occasions. Attendance and interest in the training was high, and both sessions filled up quickly. Ripple Effect also developed a five-year training curriculum to meet long-term community needs and to allow NIAID to continue building its evaluation capacity.