Reflections from the CES 2017 Conference

Jenn Dixon, the successful applicant for CES Nova Scotia Chapter funding to help attend the conference, was asked to reflect on her conference experience. Here is what she shared with us.


With the support of the CES-NS Branch I was provided a wonderful opportunity to attend the 2017 CES Annual Conference in Vancouver, BC from May 1-4th. Ongoing professional development, and feeling connected to the field of evaluation are so important, and I am grateful to CES-NS to help continue my growth and journey. The theme of this year’s conference was “Facing Forward: Innovation, Action and Reflection”. For myself, the theme was perfect timing as I am in the process of seeking my CE Designation and affirming that evaluation is the direction I would like to move my career.

Following with the theme of the conference, I thought the best way to sum up my experience is to share the new ideas (innovation), what I plan to apply to my work (action), and how my experience has influenced my path forward (reflection).


While not necessarily categorized under the presentations that focused on innovation, a panel presentation I attended titled “Evaluation Rubrics – Delivering well-reasoned answers to real evaluative questions” left me with many new ideas for my own evaluation practice. Jane Davidson and her colleagues walked through the process of developing and using an evaluation rubric. The idea of using a rubric or matrix in framing and planning an evaluation is not completely new to me, but the ways that the panel described their own use of a rubric in various settings gave me a new appreciation and value that they can provide.


One of the topics I was looking forward to learning more at the conference was evaluation capacity. In my current job, evaluation capacity building is key focus of my work. I was looking for new ways to build evaluation culture and capacity within my organization, as well as reaffirm some of the challenges and successes I have been experiencing. I attended a presentation by Isabelle Bourgeois, where I learned about an evaluation capacity diagnostic tool that is available for use, has been tested in several organizations, and is based on theory and research. I was excited to leave the conference and take back what I learned and share it with my colleagues, with the hopes of eventually using this tool to provide better insights into the organization’s strengths, gaps and opportunities regarding evaluation.


Instead of reflecting on the evolution of evaluation, my “reflection” experience during the conference was personal and internal. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action were touched upon throughout the three days, from the first morning where the hosts acknowledged the land where the conference was taking place, to presentations about organizations and individuals have taken to heart the calls for action. I found myself reflecting throughout the conference (and after) about the importance of being aware, present, and acknowledging the culture, place, and context in which we live and work.

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