Tracking and Evaluation Core
The Tracking and Evaluation Core is responsible for the tracking, assessment, and evaluation of all activities and programs associated with the DaCCoTA.
The Dakota Cancer Collaborative on Translational Activity’s (DaCCoTA) goal is to enhance the quality of life for the Dakota region’s population by promoting awareness, improving healthcare, enhancing disease prevention, and developing medical interventions related to cancer. Specifically, the DaCCoTA will develop methods to combat the cancers that disproportionately afflict the citizens of the Dakota region, especially Native Americans, through translational research. Translational research is the integration of laboratory research, patient-based clinical trials, and population-based research designed to improve public health (Rubio et al., 2010). The DaCCoTA serves as a bridge between the traditionally separate realms of laboratory research, clinical practice, patient care, and public health initiatives.
The DaCCoTA Tracking and Evaluation Core is an independent entity of the University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health. This core supports the DaCCoTA by tracking progress, monitoring outcomes, and providing on-going assessments. The evaluation views the DaCCoTA as a holistic system with integrated components (e.g., Specialized Cores, advisory committees, and community boards) working together to support cancer translational research. Following a system approach, the Tracking and Evaluation Core is integrated into all aspects of DaCCoTA planning and implementation. Being embedded in the development stages of DaCCoTA enables this core to evaluate the process and impact as a whole and understand idiosyncratic functions of each core. The Tracking and Evaluation Core works closely with the Administrative Core to implement continuous quality improvement initiatives across the DaCCoTA system. The findings of the Tracking and Evaluation Core will inform DaCCoTA leadership, core directors, and stakeholders to assess the impact of DaCCoTA on the following:
- Promoting research across the translational continuum
- Creating sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective infrastructures for translational research
- Engaging diverse investigator communities to leverage translational research resources
The Tracking and Evaluation Core addresses the contextual complexities of translational research center facilitation, utilizing traditional output measures (e.g., logic model outputs, core activities) and three theory driven evaluation approaches to assess process:
- System Evaluation Theory (SET) – to assess DaCCoTA efficiency
- Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model – to assess education and training
- Matrix Mentoring Model – to assess mentoring as a change agent
Evaluating the implementation (process) of the DaCCoTA using Theory Driven Evaluation (TDE) approaches is markedly different than the strategies used to evaluate similar centers of excellence. This core aims to show that when the evaluation approaches are correctly matched to the evaluation challenge, it results in more meaningful data and useful recommendations to assist decision-making.
The impact evaluation is designed to answer the question: “What difference is the DaCCoTA making?” The impact evaluation includes Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Common Metrics Initiative metrics:
- Careers in clinical and translational research
- Institutional review board duration
- Pilot funding and publications
Along with the CTSA metrics, the Tracking and Evaluation Core will assess the short- and long-term outcomes of DaCCoTA as guided by each core’s program assumptions, logic models, and theory of change.
Tracking and Evaluation Core Faculty
Gary Hart, PhD - Director of the Tracking and Evaluation Core
Dr. Hart is tenured professor and director of the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences Center for Rural Health and a professor in the School's Department of Population Health. He has decades of experience with many aspects of rural health research and has published widely and performed many evaluations of various rural oriented policies and programs. He is known for the sophisticated methodology of his work. His Center for Rural Health has several divisions that are extremely relevant to the DaCCoTA and its evaluation (e.g., research/evaluation, Native Americans, dissemination, community outreach and engagement, and many more).
Richard Van Eck, PhD - Co-Director of the Tracking and Evaluation Core
Dr. Van Eck is associate dean for Teaching and Learning at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences and has more than 15 years of experience teaching educational technology and instructional design in higher education. He received his PhD in Instructional Design and Development and has served as co-principal investigator, evaluator, game design consultant, and advisory board member for 10 grants from the American Medical Association, National Science Foundation, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Dr. Van Eck has extensive experience in data collection and analysis of evaluation data.
Ralph Renger, PhD - Consultant for the Tracking and Evaluation Core
Dr. Renger recently retired from his position as a tenured professor for the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences Center for Rural Health (CRH) and the School's Department of Population Health. He oversaw the evaluation of CRH programs, and his research background involves establishing various evaluation methods and testing them. Dr. Renger is an internationally recognized expert in tracking and evaluation, and has assembled a team of evaluation professionals who collectively have more than five decades of experience conducting large-scale evaluations for various federal grants. The team includes evaluators with specialized quantitative and qualitative expertise who have applied their skills to develop rigorous experimental designs, engage in policy analysis, and support broad-based organizational change and capacity-building initiatives. He has published more than 65 articles in high profile journals as well as 160 evaluation reports. Thus, Dr. Renger has the expertise and administrative skills needed to guide this core, and he will provide input to the directors of the Tracking and Evaluation Core.