In a recent blog post published during the AEA 2019 Conference, Cameron Norman, initiated a list of things that evaluation is for. Recalling this list was helpful during a recent family gathering when I was asked about work. Rather than focus on the means of evaluation, I found myself talking more about the ends of evaluation which coincided with many of the things on his list shared below. Evaluation is for…
Seeing the future
Design and innovation
Asking better questions
Speaking truth to power
Honoring our work
Leading system change
Telling stories about who we are as a people
Promoting health and preventing harm
Reinforcing democratic ideals
Make sure to check out Cameron’s blog post that elaborates on each of these.
Using released items from state and national mathematics assessments can be helpful in designing a grade level assessment instrument for students to be used as one source of data in the evaluation of teacher professional development or student mathematics interventions.
The list below identifies sources of released assessment items that might be aligned with the content of your program. This list will be updated as additional sources are identified.
Based on the book Eva the Evaluator by Roger Miranda, Wendy Tackett’s enactment helps Eva understand all the different roles that an evaluator might take on in an evaluation project. This light-hearted video and the book in which it is based on demystify the complex work of evaluation.
A program is any set of organized activities supported by a set of resources to achieve a specific and intended result (p. 3)
Inherent in this rather broad definition are three important moving parts:
Set of resources (inputs)
Set of organized activities (activities described by outputs)
Specific and intended result (outcomes and impacts)
Each of these provide parameters that define and focus a program and its evaluation. Yet, embedded in the definition are the qualifiers- organized, specific, and intended. Activities must have some sort of underlying organization. Perhaps the activities are organized developmentally, sequenced by difficulty, or arranged in some manner as a result of previous research. Results must be specific and intended. That is, there is a desired end that can be clearly articulated so as to justify the means.
A program exists when the qualifiers (organized, specific, and intended) are understood and there is a logical relationship between resources, activities, and outcomes. This logical arrangement is often described in a program’s logic model. Without understood qualifiers and an articulated logic, a program is not a program, but rather a loose set of activities.
Programs are designed and implemented to create change, often throughout multiple levels of a program; but at the very basic level, change occurs in individuals. Quoting Albert Wenger, “change creates information.” Information about changes that occurred during a program is essential to evaluate a program.
According to Radhakrishna and Relado (2009), a program might influence change in a program participant’s knowledge, attitude, skills, aspirations (KASA), and behavior. Another common set of individual outcomes called KAP include knowledge, attitudes, and practices (for example, see Chaplowe (2008)). At their intersection, changes in:
what participants understand (knowledge),
what participants use to base their decisions (attitudes/beliefs), and
what participants eventually enact (practices/behaviors)
lead to useful information about the potential impact of a program.
Interviewing multiple individuals for a project is time consuming and scheduling those interviews also can be time consuming. There are several online applications that can match available interview times between interviewers and interviewees; however, I created an easy, quick, and no-cost system to schedule interview times using a Google Doc as described below.
I created a Google Doc that listed available day/times I was available for interviews. This Google Doc was shared with all interviewees at the same time using a shared link giving them permission to view but not edit the online document.
I easily and quickly edited the online document with days/times that became available or unavailable as my time commitments changed. At some level, using a Google Doc in this manner was a quick way to develop an instant website describing my availability. I used an email similar to the one below to share this process with those I was planning to interview.
I’d like to schedule an hour phone conversation to talk with you about [name of program].
This online document suggests several day/time possibilities. Please reply to this email with your preferred choices. If none will work, please suggest a couple others. I’ll confirm in a return email.
I’m really looking forward to talking with you about [name of program].
Evaluations vary as much as programs do (i.e., different activities, duration, outcomes, et cetera) underscoring the importance of wisely choosing the focus of an evaluation. Step 4 in the guide “Choosing the focus of your evaluation” describes a five tier approach that is summarized below (pages 13-16). Determining an appropriate evaluation focus is largely dependent on a program’s maturity and developmental stage.
Tier 1- Conduct a needs assessment to address how the program can best meet needs
Tier 2- Document program services to understand how program services are being implemented
Tier 3- Clarify the program to see if the program is being implemented as intended
Tier 4- Make program modifications to improve the program
Tier 5- Assess program impact to demonstrate program effectiveness
As you can see, evaluation can and should coincide with a program throughout its lifespan. These tiers are useful to help design an evaluation plan and to determine appropriate methods of data collection and analysis.
Out of school programming often seeks to develop children’s’ outcomes beyond those purely academic. Working with program leaders to align program activities/goals with specific outcomes can be a challenge. In many cases, program activities are determined prior determining program outcomes. In these instances, understanding components of positive youth development can be useful to reflect on the relationship and alignment of program activities and program outcomes.
First, the Oregon State University 4-H Youth Development Program developed a Positive Youth Development Inventory (PYDI) intended to assess PYD changes in students ages 12-18. The collection of 55 Likert scale items measures the latent constructs of:
As indicated in the tagline of this blog, I’m interested in the design, implementation, and evaluation of educational programs. This post, to be refined over time, serves as a framework describing relevant topics that will be explored in the future.
About program design:
Teacher preparation, induction, and development
Mathematics professional development
College readiness and persistence
About program implementation:
Fidelity of implementation
About program evaluation:
Evaluation capacity building
Monitoring and evaluation
Evaluation questions and rubrics
Theory of change and logic models
What other topics intersect or are aligned with these topics that would be helpful to add to this list?
Several clients have more than one evaluation project happening at the same time. Evaluation project activities including data collection, analysis, and reporting differ for each of the projects. As a means to consolidate all of the activities in a monthly snapshot I developed the evaluation memo.
An evaluation memo is a monthly correspondence (1-3 pages) between myself and a client that initiates a dialogue that:
Recaps evaluation activities that occurred that month
Poses questions to clients that need responses for the evaluation to move forward
Requests additional documents, data, or information, and
Shares upcoming activities and deliverables related to our program evaluation work
The monthly evaluation memo serves as a running record of recent past evaluation work, upcoming evaluation work, and a current client to-do list to keep the evaluation moving forward and on-track.