Ed Eval TIG Week: Learning through Living—Living History, That Is! by Leigh M. Tolley

Hello, everyone! I’m Leigh M. Tolley, Visiting Assistant Professor, Secondary Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette) and Chair of the PreK-12 Educational Evaluation TIG. I have been extremely fortunate to become involved with the Vermilionville Education Enrichment Partnership, or VEEP, an academic service learning collaboration between Vermilionville, a living history museum and folklife park, UL Lafayette, and the Lafayette Parish School System (LPSS). Through VEEP, and under the mentorship of UL Lafayette faculty, pre-service elementary and secondary social studies and English/language arts teachers prepare and implement interdisciplinary lessons with LPSS students that are rooted in Acadian, Native American, and Creole cultures.

My colleagues at UL Lafayette, Drs. Toby Daspit, Natalie Keefer, and Micah Bruce-Davis, and our friends at Vermilionville, Ms. Melanie Harrington, Education Coordinator, and Mr. Brady McKellar, Director of Museum Operations, have helped me to think more about how educational experiences outside of a school setting can impact PreK-12 students and their teachers, as well as college-level students preparing for teaching careers.

Hot Tip: Obtain input from as many people as possible!

Data about each “VEEP Day” experience have been obtained from survey instruments administered to participating students and their teachers and the Vermilionville guides that accompanied them, as well as UL Lafayette students. The UL Lafayette faculty review our students’ lessons and conduct informal observations during their implementation, and follow up with our pre-service teachers about their experiences. The VEEP team uses all of this information to get a well-rounded picture of the day and use the findings for continuous change and improvement and meaningful curricular and program enrichment.

Hot Tip: Variation is key.

For over five years, VEEP has provided both exciting opportunities for area students and multiple ways that we can learn about educational program evaluation in a living history museum context. Various evaluation approaches and data collection methods are critical to formative evaluations of UL Lafayette students’ interdisciplinary lessons, summative evaluations of each VEEP Day, and developmental evaluation of the program.

Lesson Learned: Effective collaboration can widely impact learning.

The VEEP program has helped Vermilionville to build stronger educational ties with the community, including area pre-service and in-service teachers, elementary and secondary students, school board administrators, and university faculty, while also adding to its educational resources for future visitors with the lesson plans and instructional materials that are created for this partnership.

Rad Resource:

Lesson plans created through VEEP are shared on the Educate section of Vermilionville’s website. These include the anchor activities that are conducted at the village, as well as pre- and post-lessons for elementary and secondary teachers to use in the classroom.

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 aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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