It was only a year ago that ERM’s Office of Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Services (OAERS) was formed. The intended purpose of OAERS was simple – to provide the needed infrastructure to support hands-on learning experiences of ERM students. OAERS meets this purpose by supporting and housing analytic and evaluation projects supervised by ERM faculty on which ERM students work to gain real-life, practical experience. In addition to bringing projects in-house, OAERS facilitates internship and practicum opportunities for ERM students with organizations in need of methodological support. In this manner, OAERS in quickly becoming the hub of out-of-classroom, practical learning experiences for ERM students. An added benefit of OAERS is its ability to package the rich ERM expertise in measurement, data analysis, and program evaluation as a marketable service to organizations.
A year after its formation, OAERS is experiencing rapid growth and has had a notable impact on the quality of ERM training. In just one year, nearly half of the ERM student body has been involved in an OAERS-supported project. There have been over 20 projects that involve methodological support provided to numerous organizations, including Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Physicians for Peace, the SERVE Center, the Center for Creative Leadership, Chatham County Schools, US Lacrosse, the United Way of Forsyth County, the Center for Educational Research and Evaluation, the Coalition for Diverse Language Communities, as well as several administrative and instructional units on the UNCG campus. Through working on these projects, the students have gained a wide range of experiences in the areas of applied statistics, program evaluation, measurement, and data management.
The most recent OAERS initiative is a partnership between OAERS, the SERVE Center, and UNCG’s Institute for Community and Economic Engagement to unveil the Nonprofit Evaluation Support Program at UNCG, which will provide program evaluation services and support to nonprofit organizations in the Piedmont Triad. ERM graduate students will play a major role in providing these services, offering another avenue for gaining applied experience in the field of program evaluation and data analysis.