I’m Chad Green, an internal evaluator at Loudoun County Public Schools near Washington, D.C.
I’ve worked on many systemic change initiatives over the years, and every so often I get one that defies logic. To make sense of initiatives such as these, I often use a design framework from the book How People Learn by the National Research Council. Click on the link, and you’ll see an illustration of how learning communities such as districts, schools and classrooms can be viewed as an interaction between four interrelated learning environments in need of cultivation:
- Learner-centered environment: Educators take into account prior knowledge, skills, learning styles, attitudes and unique characteristics of learners in order to motivate them to learn the desired content.
- Knowledge-centered environment: Educators provide opportunities for hands-on, interactive learning that leads to conceptual understanding rather than the acquisition of disconnected sets of facts and skills. The goal is learner mastery of concepts that makes new learning easier (i.e., supports the transfer of cognitive skills).
- Assessment-centered environment: Educators monitor progress using formative assessments in order to help learners take control of their own learning (i.e., the metacognitive approach).
- Community-centered environment: Educators consider the contexts in which learning takes place by developing norms for the community, as well as connections with the outside world, in order to promote a sense of connectedness through shared purpose and values.
Over the years I’ve learned that this flexible framework can be used to review the integrity of large-scale educational initiatives. For example, once I used it as a discussant to make sense of a variety of educational initiatives at the state and national levels. By applying the four perspectives to each initiative, I could quickly identify their strengths and gaps and make immediate recommendations for improvement.
Is this design framework applicable at even larger scales? What about the evaluation community world-wide? I think so.
Last month Bob Williams initiated a thread entitled “Evaluation’s warrant” on the EVALTALK listserv. In it he referenced the following quote from a March 2015 presentation by Irene Guijt:
“It is now up to the evaluation community to show whether evaluation can be part of the effort to save humanity or if evaluation only can make the journey to its doom marginally better” (Mickwitz, 2014).
In response to Bob’s post I applied the design framework once again, envisioning AEA as a node on a global network of Voluntary Organizations for Professional Evaluation (VOPEs). This evaluation-centered superhub would need to partner with other global superhubs that closely align with our guiding principles and core values as follows:
* Evaluation-centered superhub
* Research- or knowledge-centered superhub
* People- or planet-centered superhub
Encircling and supporting these superhubs is the (global) public good or commons.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Ed Eval TIG Week with our colleagues in the PK12 Educational Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our Ed Eval TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.