Why this blog?

I am hopeful that this blog serves as a digital commonplace book and becomes a way to further my own thinking about a variety of topics related to strategy and evaluation- particularly in community- and education-based programming. I’m particularly interested in the learning that evolves when we explore what lies at the intersection of strategy and evaluation. While this public archive is more for my own use in the future, I’m also hopeful that over time, others might find something valuable, and maybe contribute a thought, caution, rebuttal, resource, or useful other.

Why the name?

TangentMinds is a bit of an offshoot that stems back to a time earlier in my career as a middle and high school math teacher. I became increasingly intrigued by the divergent thinking that occurred inside of my mathematics classroom when students were given opportunities to talk about their mathematical thinking. Unpacking student voice at the time provided clues about what students understood about mathematics and the contexts in which mathematics could serve. These qualitative data richly supplemented any quantitative assessment data being collected at the time and, quite likely, served as my initial foray into mixed methods data collection and analysis. At any rate, “tangent minds” acknowledges all the ways in which our knowledge, attitudes/beliefs, and practices/behaviors are connected.

Who am I?

I am Chris Cox. My own experience is heavily rooted in public education. I believe that education and community are separate sides of the same coin. Strong education systems and strong communities go hand-in-hand. Since graduating from Western Michigan University, I taught high school students for a few years while completing my first graduate degree in educational administration at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. I then went on to teach middle school students for 7 years in Michigan, while coordinating the district middle school mathematics program. I then coordinated the district-wide K-12 mathematics program in Kalamazoo Public Schools for 5 years. I’ve since completed a PhD in educational leadership at Miami University while working as a senior research associate and project team leader at the Discovery Center for Evaluation, Research, and Professional Learning, a university based center. Since my time at the Center, I’ve been fortunate to conduct a wide array of program evaluations and M&E capacity building projects, working with funding agencies that have included local organizations, foundations, school districts, the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Department of Higher Education, the Ohio Department of Health, and the National Science Foundation.

Typically, no two research/evaluation projects are the same. While they employ similar social science research methods, the contexts in which projects widely differ and add much variety and divergent thinking. Here’s a listing of many of the program contexts in which I have dabbled:

educator supply and demand // teacher preparation // teacher induction and mentoring // teacher professional development // mathematics curriculum // mathematics reasoning and literacy // science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) // pedagogical content knowledge // blended learning // coding in elementary grades // collective argumentation // wise-crowd assessment and teacher feedback // partnerships and collaborations // two-generation models // parent education // parent engagement // college readiness and persistence // infant vitality and mortality reduction // regional transportation // needs assessment // social determinants of health // neighborhood navigation // policy/practice change // evaluation capacity building // monitoring and evaluation technical assistance // summer school programming // positive youth development // curriculum processes // neighborhood school centers // Ohio Improvement Process // school quality improvement // school climate // lesson study

My thoughts here are my own.

You can find me at LinkedIn and Twitter.