EdEval Week: Krista Collins and Chad Green on Designing Evaluations with the Whole Child in Mind

Hi! We are Krista Collins, Applied Developmental Psychology Doctoral Candidate at Claremont Graduate University, and Chad Green, Program Analyst at Loudoun County Public Schools.  We are the future and past program co-chairs for the PreK-12 Educational Evaluation TIG.

In an  aea365 Cognitive Coaching post last year, we asked our colleagues to explore a maturing outcomes map for teachers and students. The purpose was to get educational evaluators to start thinking about “more potent, multiple, simultaneous and complex outcomes” beyond national policy mandates.  Today we want to share some tips on developmental life span models in general given their connection with a whole child perspective in education (i.e., one of our TIG’s primary values), as well as AEA’s annual conference theme.

Hot Tips:

  • Developmental Domains: Education influences, and is influenced by, multiple categories of development, including cognitive, social, emotional, and physical domains.  For example, school success is not just academic performance, but also school attitudes, relationships with teachers, classroom engagement, etc.  While many educators focus only on traditional academic outcomes, to understand the full impact of educational programs, it is better to consider youth outcomes across multiple developmental domains.
  • Ecological Context:  Educational experiences are shaped by interactions between individuals and their environment. For PreK-12 students, it is important to recognize that experiences at home, with peers and in community programs, as well as those in the classroom, all impact educational outcomes.  To understand the true impact of educational programs, it is important to consider the separate and combined influences of individual traits and their experiences in the home, school, and community.
  • Change over Time: From preschool to high school, teaching strategies and educational expectations change based on students’ ability.  For example, early literacy success can be measured by command of the alphabet, whereas written essays and analogies are often used to indicate college readiness.  Evaluation designs, including data collection measures and expected outcomes, should be tailored to the developmental level of the students, and be sensitive to the changing indicators of educational success over time.
  • Nested Systems: Theories depicting embedded, interacting components abound in developmental psychology, such as Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory, Richard Lerner’s Developmental Contextualism, and Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  To support a whole child perspective, educational evaluators should include assumptions from one or more of these emergent models in their evaluation designs.

Rad Resource:

Check out the indicators of the ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative to learn more about the whole child approach to education; also visit their website and blog.

Hot Tip: Take a minute and thank a teacher this week!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating 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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