Dr. Julien Kouamé Ph.D. – Evaluation, Measurement and Research

A photo of Dr. Julien Kouamé and his mother Eugenie Adon Brou

On November 7, 2012, Julien Kouamé defended his dissertation. On April 27, 2013, Dr. Kouamé was hooded by his committee chair, Dr. Brooks Applegate, at the Spring 2013 commencement ceremony at University Auditorium. Congratulations to Julien Kouamé upon completion of his Ph.D. in Evaluation, Measurement and Research. The members of his committee are Dr. Brooks Applegate, Professor of Evaluation, Measurement and Research in the Educational Leadership, Research and Technology Department in the College of Education and Human Development, WMU, Dr. Marianne Di Pierro, Director, Graduate Center for Research and Retention, Graduate College, WMU and Dr. Michael Bamberger, Independent Evaluation Consultant and faculty member at the Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development. Dr. Kouamé’s dissertation is titled, “Design in Evaluation: Adequacy and Validity of Health Evaluation in the Context of Developing Countries.”
This research looks at International Health Intervention Evaluations (IHIE) by investigating the level of rigor in a sample of IHIEs to determine the ramifications of poorly conducted IHIEs, which can put the health of recipients of the intervention at risk. Since very few IHEIs meet globally established minimum criteria for sound methodology, this is an important area of research. The study also delineates the institutional policies and procedures that govern the evaluations. The research seeks to answer four questions: (1) What are policies, guidelines, and requirements for program evaluation and evaluation reports posed by international donors for evaluators? (2) What are the common types of research designs used to evaluate international health interventions? (3) What are common components and contents of reports from evaluations of international health interventions? (4) What is the level of rigor of those designs used to evaluate international health interventions?
The findings from exploration of these research questions reveals that there is quite a bit of variability and flexibility among the seven organizational evaluation policies and guidelines governing the evaluation of IHIEs. Very few of the interventions use strong evaluation designs to address the impact of each program. The evaluation reports also reflect the extent of the information required for reporting as stipulated by their specific policies and guidelines. This information is often not enough to assess if the purpose of the intervention has been achieved, which compromises the transparency of the evaluation report. Though this study examines a limited number of evaluation reports, its implications suggest that international funding bodies need explicit policies and procedures to guide both program evaluation design and evaluation reporting. Greater attention to evaluation design and the components of the written evaluation report are needed to properly represent program impacts. Coupling more rigorous evaluation designs can fully address program impact and more systematic and comprehensive reporting will provide greater transparency, an important element for international funding bodies.
Julien Kouamé worked for several years for the Graduate Center for Research and Retention as a research assistant to Dr. Marianne DiPierro, director of the center. Before beginning his doctoral studies at WMU in 2006, Julien received a Master’s in Public Health from Emory University in 2004 and worked for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta from 2004-2006. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Interpersonal/Organizational Communication in May 2001 from Manchester College in North Manchester, Indiana. In June 1999 he earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication and Marketing from EST Loko, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, from whence he hails. He is the first person from his village to earn a degree and is the pride of his 86 year-old-mother, Eugenie Adon Brou. She flew all the way from Ivory Coast alone to be at Julien’s graduation. His father died when he was young and she worked hard as a farmer and midwife to find the money to send him to school, which is not free in his country. Finally she ran out of money and Julien had to drop out. He volunteered with some Peace Corps staffers in his village and became so close with them that they paid his tuition so he could finish high school. He qualified to go to college, but again did not have the tuition. Finally his mentors in the Peace Corps arranged for him to come to the United States to go to Manchester University in Indiana.
Now, twelve years later, Julien has a Ph.D. and works as a research manager at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University. There he gathers, analyzes, interprets and shares national and local data through partnerships with nonprofit and neighborhood groups in an effort to assist local and regional nonprofit leaders with decision-making, grant writing, and program evaluation. We congratulate Julien and acknowledge all his hard work and the long journey he has taken to get where he is today, with the help and encouragement of his mother, who is now back home in Ivory Coast.

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