Voices and Viewpoints

TCI Featured Evaluator Sarah Stewart Shares Retention-Revenue Calculator

by Sarah Stewart / Nov 5, 2015

This post is part of a new blog series called Transformative Change Initiative (TCI) Featured Evaluator, that includes interviews with members of TCI’s Evaluation Collaborative. This community of evaluators has a wealth of knowledge, experience and insights into evaluation of the TAACCCT grants that are being implementation throughout the United States. Want to be profiled or know someone who would make a great feature? Email us at occrl@illinois.edu.

Name: Sarah Stewart
Current position: Research Associate

Short bio: Ms. Stewart’s primary focus is on STEM education-related projects, as well as workforce development program evaluation. Her expertise includes project management, as well as quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. She manages numerous evaluation projects, serving as external evaluator for several NSF-funded research projects, as well as four TAACCCT projects (Rounds 1, 3, and 4). Prior to joining Hezel Associates, Ms. Stewart served as coordinator for PK-12 recycling education at a local solid waste agency, which involved design of lessons and educational materials, as well as recycling program evaluation throughout multiple schools. In addition, she assisted with various data analysis projects while working as an Environmental Scientist at SRC, Inc., in Syracuse. Ms. Stewart holds a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Environmental Policy from Syracuse University.


Q. What is the design and predominant methods for your TAACCCT evaluation?
A. All of our TAACCCT evaluations are mixed methods. This gives us ability to interpret “the numbers” in the context of qualitative data, giving an overall picture of implementation and outcomes. That said, our use of this design is entirely project-focused in that it is tailored to each grantee’s needs, resources, and institutional culture.

Q. What advice do you have for new TAACCCT evaluators?
A. Talk to other TAACCCT evaluators. We’ve learned so much over the last few years, in terms of what DOL is looking for, what issues exist with the data, and potential solutions. “Seasoned” TAACCCT evaluators are the best resource, TCI is a good place to find them!

Q. What questions do you have for others about TAACCCT evaluation?
A. How can evaluators build the capacity of community colleges to make data-driven decisions post-grant, and is that part of our role?

Q. Do you have tools, reports or other products you are willing to share?
A. We developed a cost analysis tool for the National STEM Consortium (NSC) Round 1 project called the Retention-Revenue Calculator. Because increased student retention (comparing NSC students to the average of the rest of the colleges) was an outcome of their programs, NSC program coordinators wanted to equate that improvement into tuition revenue for the institution. This has allowed program coordinators to make the case that the programs could be sustained or scaled up when talking to administrators at their institutions. This tool is an Excel spreadsheet, with instructions and color-coding to help anyone use it. It’s available on Skills Commons for anyone to download and use: https://www.skillscommons.org/handle/taaccct/844

Sarah can be reached at Sarah@hezel.com.

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