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ITE TIG Week: Sailing Through A Post-Truth Pandemic Portal Towards Post Normal Evaluators and Evaluation by Ichhya Pant

Namaste to my fellow evaluators in the United States and worldwide. My name is Ichhya Pant and I am a Doctoral Candidate and Research Scientist at the GWU School of Public Health. As I write my first ever AEA365 blog post, I can’t help but reflect on the monumental year we just experienced. Much has been written and said about what makes 2020 monumental –

In this blog post, I’d like to elaborate on the first post-truth pandemic. “Fake news” became a colloquial term in the past 5 years, especially more once it transformed into a full-blown crisis triggered infodemic. 

The boundaries between “fake news” and accurate information have become increasingly blurrier. Even world leaders and highly trained professionals are no longer immune to these blurred lines leading to fiery interdisciplinary debates and frustration over epistemic trespassing. The catch-22 here though is that an antidote to “fake news” requires a multi-disciplinary effort, which leads me to wonder about what evaluators and the field of evaluation might have to offer towards this movement.

Hot Tips

Caroline Heider, Former Director General, Evaluation, World Bank Group states:

Dr. Thomas Schwandt opines on the emergence of post-normal evaluation and offers five intimations of post-normal evaluation – 1) resilience thinking as a rationality of governing, 2) politics returning to the people, 3) recovery of practical reasoning, 4) co-production, and 5) ethical accountability. 

Dr. Zenda Ofir details ten vital evaluator competencies for the post-normal evaluation era:

Image for post

Source: https://medium.com/work-futures/ 1

Marco Segone, Director of Evaluation at UNFPA states:

Reflective Question

While these hot tips are a great start to mapping out where evaluators, evaluation, technology, and “fake news” intersect, there is potentially so much more the field can contribute to flatten the infodemic. For starters, I ask:  

How can we critically evaluate – facts versus falsehoods; technologies, interventions and policies to counter falsehoods, their harms, and their unintended consequences; the types of harms falsehoods pose to society-at-large, especially disproportionate harm towards certain groups (e.g. elderly, women and immigrants)?

Rad Resources

WHO Infodemic Management

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.

4 thoughts on “ITE TIG Week: Sailing Through A Post-Truth Pandemic Portal Towards Post Normal Evaluators and Evaluation by Ichhya Pant”

  1. Hello Ichhya! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your blog post. The last year or so has definitely been memorable worldwide. We are currently living through monumental traumatic event in history right now. It is so crazy to think about. I feel as though this year has been hard enough as it is and the reports of “fake news” doesn’t do anything but spread false information. It also negatively affects us as the people reading it. Therefore, it is extremely important for reliable and valid information to be put into the media, especially when it comes to current events. Accuracy and precision is very significant. Thanks for the information!

  2. Hello Ichhya,
    The year is bad enough with all that goes on to also have fake news making things worse and harder for people that want to evaluate and do research for the benefit of those that need it. That is why it is so important to ensure information and sources are reliable.

  3. Hi there!
    I am currently studying a Professional Master of Education with Queen’s University and have been learning more about the world of evaluation. As a teacher who evaluates solely within a classroom setting, the idea of program evaluation has been very interesting to me! A falsehood posed to society about evaluation within the classroom throughout the pandemic has been the idea that our students are ‘falling behind’ or ‘missing out on skills’ which will harm them in the future. This short writing piece (https://dianeravitch.net/2020/12/12/teresa-thayer-snyder-what-shall-we-do-about-the-children-after-the-pandemic/amp/)
    is so important on the idea that we have artificially constructed measures of achievement – maybe those are no longer relevant? I think at the moment our students are emotionally and socially so vulnerable… is a falsehood such as they will be ‘behind’ or missing out on ‘important exams/tests’ really serving any purpose. Thanks for the thoughts…looking towards the post-normal in the classroom! (:

    1. Hello, Rachel. I am a professional evaluator and was touched by your question. I have no training in the field of education and accordingly, not qualified to comment on whether the measures of educational achievement are artificially constructed or no longer relevant. However, it does strike me that by focusing so much discussion on the future harm children will experience from falling behind and missing out on skills development (based on current measures) at a time when they are so emotionally and socially vulnerable risks making them feel even more fearful and insecure. You will be a loser. You already are. So maybe it is time to broaden the toolkit of measures of achievement as teachers, students, parents, educational and child psychology professionals, and innovators think about new methods for educating our children both during and after this pandemic. So as not to harm these students psychologically….let’s focus on the fact that by necessity we are in a great period of experimentation and innovation. New measures must be linked with new methods for delivering teaching, with changes in “class” location, and with changes in class content during pandemics. Fixed measures don’t fit with the dramatically different circumstances in which students find themselves now, or with the set of assumptions on which they were developed. Let that work on how best to measure our children’s learning during these times begin.

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