Greetings fellow AEA evaluators! I am Carrol Warren and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to teach graduate courses centered around evaluation and program planning. It is through those teaching experiences that I’ve come to appreciate unique assignments that serve to engage my students as they learn about evaluation.
Evaluators serve in a position requiring that they engage in ongoing professional development to maintain credibility, learn about current trends, and build their network. It’s not surprising that as the virtual world we live in has provided opportunities for remote learning, our memory of what we participate in can be influenced by notetaking and drawing as we read, listen, or watch experts share their knowledge. Research has shown that drawing enhances our memory substantially, and can serve as a strategy to learn despite cognitive deficits.
Have you heard about sketchnotes? Mike Rohde is credited with encouraging the use of sketching your thoughts through doodling on paper while you learn and coined the term sketchnotes in 2006. Sketchnotes involves processing what you are learning through drawing shapes and using icons to make connections between what you read or watch or hear. If you are new to sketchnotes it’s worth six minutes of your time to watch Sunni Brown’s Ted Talk, Doodlers, unite!
In my teaching role it’s important to me that students understand the Kirkpatrick Model for training evaluation. The course dives into the four levels of training evaluation inclusive of: reaction, behavior, learning, and reaction. Students come into the course expecting to read and write…a lot, and they do; however, it’s also important that they are able to apply what they are learning. For some students, this is only one course among many others in their graduate degree plan, and they may or may not have a vested interest in learning about evaluation theory, skills, and models. So, by designing learning opportunities allowing a space for them to tap into their creativity, I sometimes notice a shift in their interest level of the content. For example, more than one student has shared that this assignment was intimidating because they weren’t comfortable with drawing – but afterwards, they share how much they appreciate the chance to draw out a visual representation of what they are learning.
When I give this assignment, I use google slides shared among the students in my class. Each student is asked to doodle their notes and then post a picture to a slide. I provide instructions, links to learn more about sketchnotes, and examples. The outcome is incredible and serves as a gallery of doodled notes that students can revisit throughout the course. Not only are students able to capture a visual representation of what they take away from the reading assignment, but they can learn from what sparked an interest in the same reading assignment among their peers as well. The takeaways are usually diverse and the best part is there are no rules!
If you have the opportunity to teach others about the practice of evaluation or even if you are continuing your own learning journey, I encourage you to consider the use of visual note taking to document your understanding of the material you read. With the permission of a few of the graduate students I teach, I would like to introduce you to the gallery of sketchnotes. The topic they were asked to sketch is the Kirkpatrick Model of evaluation and you can see from the notes captured that while the same materials were read, each student took away at least one concept different from the others.
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