Team Bridge2Action (From L-R): Natasha Vitkin, James Young, Cassandra Parsons, Stephanie Liu, and Manal Masud

MPH students crowned North American Champions in World Evaluation Case Competition

February 07, 2020

A group of SFU health sciences students (Cassandra Parsons, James Young, Stephanie Liu, Natasha Vitkin, and Manal Masud) were recently named the 2019 North American Champion of the World Evaluation Case Competition (WECC).

The team had qualified for this competition after winning the Canadian Evaluation Society’s (CES) Student Case Competition last year. Competing against teams from across the world was an unforgettable experience for Parsons, Young, Liu, Vitkin, - students in the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Master of Public Health (MPH) program - and Masud, a recent MPH graduate. Some of the team members who took HSCI 826 (Program Planning and Evaluation) had the chance to put their knowledge of the course into action.

“Taking HSCI 826 really helped me understand how to best approach the WECC, and gave me the building blocks necessary for tackling the development of the theory of change.” says Young.

The WECC is a case competition that contributes to the career development of teams of post-secondary students. 46 students and 13 coaches participated in the 2019 case competition, which comprised of 13 teams from Cameroon, Canada, Ghana, India, Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, the Czech Republic, Uganda and the United States of America. The teams were given a limited time period to prepare a brief conveying their understanding of the key issues in the case and their recommendations for action.

“We were asked to evaluate the results of a climate change adaptation program in the Maldives using information from two 50-page documents from the World Bank,” says Vitkin. “We then had to develop a situational analysis, theory of change, performance indicators, evaluation questions, and an infographic - all in under six hours!”

The SFU “Bridge2Action” team was coached by Faculty of Health Sciences adjunct professor Beth Snow, who was also their coach during the CES Student Case Competition.

“I think we really came together as a team to work both independently and together to discuss our ideas. Although it felt stressful at times, it was an invaluable learning experience in synthesizing complex information and developing an evaluation report in a limited time period." Vitkin recounted.

Upon the submission of each team’s case to the judging panel, the judges individually rated each submission without knowing the country from which the submission originated. Submissions were rated in three areas: identification and articulation of key issues in the case; logic, practicality and methodological strength of actions proposed; and effectiveness of the presentation. After a rigorous review period, the Bridge2Action team was crowned the 2019 North American Champion.

"Experience in evaluation is such an important professional asset, particularly in the field of public health,” says Liu. “Our experience in developing an evaluation plan, working collaboratively as a team and completing a proposal in such a short time period will be impressive to employers seeking evaluation skills. It is exciting to add this experience to our CVs!"

Team Bridge2Action working on their submission for the WECC.