My name is Girija Kaimal and I am an Assistant Professor in the Department for Creative Arts Therapies at Drexel University. As an educator, evaluator, blogger and, artist, I’d like to share how my evaluation practice is informed by my artistic practice. The fields might seem unrelated but I think of art as metaphor. My colleagues and I published recently on how the arts can inform leadership practice (http://www.ijea.org/v15n4/). So then I wondered how the arts could inform evaluation as well.
- Tools: Each media option comes with its unique attributes. Oil pastels offer bright colors; watercolors require an absorbent base; felt-tip markers can provide detail but aren’t really useful if you want to cover large surfaces; and; if you need to erase and refine your work, then pencil or digital media are your best choices. Each media choice comes with its own set of strengths and challenges and I have to know these attributes to use the tool effectively. Choice of evaluation tools for data collection and analysis is no different. You might be skilled in a range of methods or you might be sought out for a specific specialized skill. Either ways knowing your tools is essential for artistic and/ or evaluation practice.
- Caring:If my paint brushes aren’t clean, my pencils not sharpened, paper not stacked and my supplies aren’t stored safely they will not be available or effective when I decide to use them. It is no different with evaluation tools. If my work files and software are not organized and saved safely, then neither my use of time nor my work will be efficient.
- Practice: Can I avoid doing art for months on end and then expect to be skilled when I decide to start drawing one fine day? No, like with any other skill, ongoing practice is essential to both sustain and improve skills in both artmaking and evaluation.
- Sharing: Artmaking is like visual journaling for me: it helps me think through problems and express complicated emotions and ideas. Sharing my work with others helps me see things that I did not or could not see on my own. It is no different in evaluation. I make it a point to share summary findings and/ or draft reports prior to any final submissions.
- Discovery: Starting a new project (in art or evaluation) is full of the promise of learning and discovery. At the end there is sometimes a thrilling insight or often just an incremental discovery. Regardless, each project’s process has meaning and relevance and offers lessons to be learned.
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