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EdEval Week: Chad Green on Nested Outcome Models

Chad Green here on the utility of Costa and Garmston’s maturing outcomes map from yesterday’s post.

If you revisit this colorful framework, you will notice that the nested concepts form a learning continuum, ranging from concrete to abstract, similar to the outcomes in a logic model.  However, if you dabble in cognitive neuroscience like myself, you may find this ordering of outcomes counterintuitive given the anatomical structure of the human brain. To correct for this minor oversight, all you need to do is invert the continuum such that the states of mind (i.e., empowerment outcomes) occupy the center of the model. According to my experience, this simple inversion of the continuum creates a “lensing” effect, if you will, that magnifies the valuing of the outcomes on the outer rings.

Hot Tip: Thinking in terms of nested outcome models has been very useful for my evaluation work.  For example, in order to make sense of my role as PreK-12 Program Co-chair, I created this earth metaphor as an adaptation of Alkin and Christie’s (2004) evaluation theory tree.  In theory, evaluators may span the layers of this conceptual framework in three ways: deductively, inductively, or transducively (both inside and outside).

  • Theories of change (Inner core): Provide evaluators with a central understanding of how growth and transformation occur within the evaluand across cultures, time, and space.
  • Values and principles in evaluation (Outer core): Determine the purpose of human valuing (i.e., of evidence, quality, inquiry, equity, social justice) within the context of the evaluator’s work.
  • Use for decision making and change (Mantle): Provide evaluators with roles, procedures, and perspectives to help users of evaluation information make decisions and instill change in more efficient or engaging ways.
  • Methods of evaluation research (Upper mantle): Serve as general practices in knowledge construction that emanate from and build upon the evaluator’s theories of change, values, and roles.
  • Domain knowledge (Crust): Specify subject matter expertise evaluators should possess for their line of work.

Rad Resources: Check out this video on the golden circle, a nested model developed by Simon Sinek.  Sinek’s framework has parallels in Universal Design for Learning, an approach to teaching that gives all individuals equal opportunities to learn.

Hot Tip: Consider this quote by Hegel (1817), author of The Science of Logic, in which he describes the nested nature of philosophy itself: “Each of the parts of philosophy is a philosophical whole, a circle rounded and complete in itself. … The single circle, because it is a real totality, bursts through the limits imposed by its special medium, and gives rise to a wider circle. The whole of philosophy in this way resembles a circle of circles.”

The American Evaluation Association is Educational Evaluation Week with our colleagues in the PreK-12 Educational Evaluation AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our EdEval 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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