Hi again! I’m Leigh M. Tolley, Chair of the PreK-12 Educational Evaluation Topical Interest Group (TIG) and Assistant Professor, Secondary Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette). As a former high school English teacher, I consider myself very fortunate to work with preservice and inservice teachers in their learning and professional development. In my own experiences in secondary teaching, then as a teaching assistant while an Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation doctoral student at Syracuse University, and now in my current role at UL Lafayette, I have realized that PreK-12 teachers use a great deal of evaluative thinking in their practice.
According to Michael Quinn Patton, principles of evaluative thinking include:
- the need to be clear, intentional, accountable, specific, and systematic;
- focusing and prioritizing, and making assumptions and criteria and standards for judgment explicit;
- using data based statements of fact and limiting generalizations and causal explanations to what data support in order to draw appropriate conclusions; and
- the need for cultural sensitivity and cultural competence.
These all apply to what expert teachers do on a daily basis! Myriad decisions are made by educators as they strive to understand their students, their needs, and how to best address them, all while evaluating their pedagogy to determine what is most effective. How do we draw upon this knowledge to learn more about teacher preparation, and ready ourselves for the future of educational evaluation?
Hot Tip: When working with experienced educators, evaluators should do their best to help bring these teachers’ inherent knowledge to light, and make their extensive implicit knowledge more explicit. Mixed methods approaches can be helpful in identifying teachers’ evaluative thinking about their instruction, such as surveys to obtain quantitative data about their assessment processes, followed by interviews to explore the reasoning behind these approaches.
Hot Tip: The more we continue conversations with educators about evaluation in PreK-12 (and even higher education) contexts, the better our connections will be with new and experienced teachers alike. These relationships will help establish a shared vocabulary that can move educational evaluation—and education as a whole—forward.
Lesson Learned: Novice teachers still have a lot to offer educational evaluation! Preservice teachers likely have the capacity to engage in evaluative thinking as they are learning their profession, especially when they are able to design, implement, and reflect on their lessons. Focus groups or semi-structured interviews after lesson implementation, both with and without the use of videos of their teaching, have been helpful in learning about preservice teachers’ internal processes and emerging evaluative thinking.
Lesson Learned: Although we would all much rather be in the classroom, I have noticed that my undergraduate preservice teachers have had a lot more time to reflect on their pedagogy since being home due to school closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Encouraging reflective practice, and allowing teacher candidates time to process what they are learning, will aid in the development of their evaluative thinking skills.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Ed Eval TIG Week with our colleagues in the PreK-12 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.