Fish swimming up a fish latter with steps labeled 'request for proposal', 'proposal review', etc.

Request for Proposals (RFP)/Grants Announcements (GA)

Tip: Require the proposal include an overview of an evaluation plan. The RFP/GA should include explicit guidance as to what should be included in the evaluation plan overview. Sample language could include the following points:
“It is required that each project include a formative and summative evaluation plan. The evaluation plan should refer to the objectives, goals, and baseline data presented within the description of the proposed project activities. The formative evaluation should include benchmarks and indicators of progress that demonstrate the proposers' understanding of the essential quantitative and qualitative indicators for assessing the progress of the project. Results from the formative evaluation efforts should be provided to the project in a timely manner allowing the results to be used to improve the ongoing project. The summative evaluation should assess whether the overall project goals were achieved and should also identify any unexpected results.”1
Tip: Require the overview of the evaluation plan include:
Tip: Include links to several easy to use evaluation resources in the RFP/GA and encourage proposed investigators and evaluators to review them and apply them as appropriate. Sample resources could include:
Beyond Rigor
Framework For Evaluating Impacts Of Broadening Participation Projects
Measuring Diversity: An Evaluation Guide for STEM Graduate Program Leaders
NSF The 2010 User-Friendly Handbook for Project Evaluation
The Universal Design for Evaluation Checklist
Tip: In the section of the proposal “Results from Prior Support” require a summary of the results from previous projects, written by the evaluation teams who evaluated each project.
Tip: Include a slide, using text like the sample below, about evaluation requirements in proposal solicitation webinars.

Slide Text: Evaluation Plan Components Required of All Proposals

  • The specification of an external evaluator or evaluation team along with their qualifications including:
    • expertise in evaluation;
    • expertise in the content areas covered by the project;
    • experience working with the target populations; and
    • the amount of time senior members of the team will spend on the evaluation.
  • Evaluation questions and an evaluation design linked to the goals and outcomes of the project.
  • Reliable procedures for collecting and analyzing data to determine:
    • what works;
    • for whom it works; and
    • the context in which it works for different groups.2
Rationale: Including specific requirements for an overview of an evaluation plan in the RFP/GA and in proposal solicitation webinars gives the evaluator guidance and provides the proposed investigators with criteria to use to assess the proposed evaluation plan before the proposal is submitted. Changes to improve the evaluation plan can then be made in advance of submission. Requiring a summary of the evaluation results of investigators' previously funded projects, written by their evaluators, helps everyone understand that the funder values evaluation.

Being specific about areas in which evaluators need expertise guides potential investigators in their selection of an evaluation team and signals proposal reviewers that the presence or absence of these skills should be considered in the proposal's review. Knowledge of the cultures of science is as important to doing a quality evaluation of STEM projects/programs as are evaluation skills, knowledge, and expertise. Evaluators with experience working with the target population of the proposal are less apt to miss nuances and misread context.

1 Adapted from
2 Adapted from