Category Archives: SCEA Blog

Member Spotlight – Nida Rinthapol

Nida ImageEducation:

University of California Santa Barbara

Ph.D. Education with emphases in Cultural Perspective and Comparative Education and Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences.

M.A. Education

B.A. Psychology

What is your current position(s) and what do you do?

I am currently teaching research method courses in the Department of Child and Adolescent Development at California State University Northridge. I am also serving as a Co-Chair in the data and analytics workgroup within the Southern California Evaluation Association (SCEA) where I manage and maintain membership information, develop various surveys, and compile reports to support the SCEA with data and analyses to inform planning and decision making within the organization.

What led you to the field of evaluation?

My dissertation committee member, Dr. John T. Yun, the former director and founder of University of California Educational Evaluation Center (UCEC) got me involved in the field of evaluation. By participating in the UCEC during graduate school, I learned and developed skills and interest in the field. That was where I met Dr. Anne T. Vo who was also a graduate student working for the center at the time. Dr. Vo is now serving as a Chair for the Southern California Evaluation Association (SCEA).

What has been your favorite moment in your career so far?

At University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), where I was the Associated Director for Data Resources, my colleague Kelly Wahl and I worked on evaluating grading practice and its impact on student academic success. We found that criterion-referenced grading (i.e., assigns grades without curving) promotes learning and minimizes achievement gaps in school. With this knowledge, we aimed to encourage faculty and educators to incorporate this way of grading into their teaching practice.

Moments like that made me recognize the power of research and evaluation in the context of school reform.

What motivates you at work?

My students. I love seeing how their eyes light up when they talk about their research interest or when they finally understand difficult course concepts that they had been struggling with. The opportunity to mentor and also learn from my students, their interests, aspirations, and goals continue to motivate me as an educator.

If you could give advice to young professionals in evaluation, what would it be?

Networking. Networking. Networking. I can’t stress that enough. It does not have to be something formal like academic presentations or workshops. At SCEA, we offer many opportunities to network with fellow local evaluators in Southern California through happy hours, and other local gatherings (we have academic workshops and professional panels too!).

What are your favorite resources for evaluators?

American Evaluation Association (AEA) website (www.eval.org) is probably the most well visited site among evaluators. I personally would recommend other evaluators not to forget resources near you such as your employer, professors, or colleagues. Most of my opportunities have come from those that I have already known.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I am fascinated by the real estate market in Southern California. I started investing in real estate after graduate school, and I often check out different listings online during my free time and go to open houses on the weekends. The nerd and entrepreneur in me have developed evaluation rubrics in assessing values and returns as I come across each property.

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SCEA Member Spotlight – Natalie D. Jones

Natalie Jones SCEA PictureEducation:

Claremont Graduate University – Ph.D.  Evaluation and Applied Research Methods, (In Progress)

Claremont Graduate University – M.A. Organizational Behavior and Evaluation

California State University, Channel Islands  – B.A. Psychology

What is your current position(s) and what do you do?

I am currently an evaluation consultant with the Claremont Evaluation Center (CEC). In this role, I lead several evaluation projects and am a member of the evaluation team on various other evaluation and organizational development projects. As an evaluation consultant with the CEC I am responsible for evaluation activities that span the entire evaluation process from engaging stakeholders, developing evaluation designs, designing logic models, constructing evaluation instruments, implementing evaluations, analyzing and collecting data, creating data visualizations, to generating useful evaluation reports. As a current Evaluation PhD student at Claremont Graduate University (CGU), I am part of a research team that studies Data Visualization and its application to evaluation practice.  

What led you to the field of evaluation?

I originally attended Claremont Graduate University to pursue a degree in Organizational Behavior. After learning about evaluation through CGU’s Professional Development Workshops, I realized that evaluation brought together my varied interests in methodology, organizational development, interpersonal relationships, social science, and tackling real-world issues. The more experience I gain in evaluation, the more I see its potential as a mechanism of change for issues that we face as a society, both domestically and globally.

What has been your favorite moment in your career so far?

Seeing stakeholders get excited about evaluation, and thinking about the potential insights it can provide for their programs.

What motivates you at work?

As someone who loves to learn, being in the evaluation field has provided me with the opportunity to work and learn from a variety of programs and engage in numerous new experiences. Overall, the opportunity that evaluation provides to aid in the betterment of programs, organizations, and society as a whole is the driving factor in my love for the work I get to do. 

If you could give advice to young professionals in evaluation, what would it be?

Reach out to experienced professionals in the field. The evaluators I have spoken with have been excited to share their knowledge and discuss their insights about the evaluation field.

 Attend an AEA conference! Attending evaluation conferences has allowed me to meet a wide range of practitioners and learn about the various opportunities that exist in the field.

What are your favorite resources for evaluators?

Besides the AEA Website, I have found the program evaluation resources provided by the CDC to be invaluable (https://www.cdc.gov/eval/tools/index.htm). Another favorite resource, that is a go to for me, is Dana Wanzer’s blog which is filled with great tools and tips for evaluators (https://danawanzer.com/blog/).

What do you like to do in your free time?

Growing up in Los Angeles, I enjoy discovering new food trucks and coffee spots, catching a Dodger game, and watching LAFC soccer. Most of all, I love to travel, exploring new locations, trying various cuisines, and meeting new people.  

Contribute to SCEA by submitting a webpost!

SCEA Webpost Contribution Guidelines

The Southern California Evaluation Association (SCEA) is dedicated to advancing the field of evaluation by supporting and sharing topics of interest with evaluation practitioners and scholars within the Southern California region. SCEA is committed to disseminating content that provides perspective about the ever-evolving evaluation landscape and that will inform evaluation practice. We are a multi-disciplinary and forward-thinking organization that aims to address the ongoing interests and needs of those involved in evaluation in the Southern California area.

We are interested in timely and engaging topics that are informed by and provides open access to evaluative scholarship. If you have experience in the evaluation field — as a seasoned or novice evaluator — we invite you to share a topic of interest. Please consider submitting a draft post for our website. The post will also be disseminated via the SCEA Twitter and LinkedIn Group!  

Your post should include:

  • A title that is both descriptive and informative
  • A brief introduction of yourself (1-3 sentences). Don’t forget your professional affiliation!
  • Purpose of the post (e.g., “I want to share…”, “I’d like you to know more about…”)
  • Study summary: include the purpose, methods, main arguments, and scope of your topic of interest. The summary should convey the results and conclusions of your topic. You are encouraged to include any relevant images (provided you have use permission) that you feel would enhance the reader’s comprehension of your topic.
  • Lessons learned (e.g., what is the significance or implications of your study, what did you learn, what could you have done differently)
  • Optional: 1-2 links to resources so that readers can learn more about the topic (e.g., website links, journal articles).
  • Draft submissions should be limited to 300-500 words and written in first-person prose.

Need some ideas? Here are some topics our members stated they would like to hear more about:

  • Strategies for communicating evaluation findings (e.g., data visualizations)
  • Demonstrations of evaluator tools (e.g., Omigraffle, Dedoose)
  • Issues unique to independent consulting
  • Project management techniques
  • Strategies for local community engagement
  • Sector-specific issues and strategies (e.g., health, environmental, education)
  • Quantitative methods & tools (e.g., social network analysis, R)

For an example of a contribution, please see this post by SCEA member Dr. Katy Nilsen.

Please submit materials to scea.comm@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!