Since the topic of the conference isn't related to my field, I didn't expect it to really help my research. But just talking about my work with other academics was surprisingly helpful, and I even got some interesting points out of the presentations that could be applied to my work. Discussions of methodology were useful, too--it's always good to hear about research techniques, regardless of the topic.
I had a chat with Dr. Sabina Siebert from the University of Glasgow about my research project, and she recommended that I look at Kirkpatrick's model of learning evaluation. Now that I've read up on it, I can't see why it hasn't been used in evaluations of the Fulbright Program. How have I never seen this before?
This model provides a systematic process for assessing programme outcomes, regardless of whether it's business training or something like the Fulbright Program. For my research, business language can be replaced with "culture learning" language. The objective for Level 2--Knowledge, for example, can be changed to "Measure changes in cultural knowledge, cross-cultural communication skills, and attitudes towards the host nation".
Getting such a useful new tool for my project makes me feel a bit better about spending time mingling with academics instead of working on the upgrade...