PD Presenters Week: Matt Militello & Chris Janson On Empowering Participants in Evaluation

We are we Matt Militello and Chris Janson. We have been working together since 2002. Our first collaboration was as educators in a public high school in Michigan where Militello was an assistant principal and Janson a counselor. We both left the K-12 setting to obtain doctorate degrees and now continue work together on research and grants.

We also conduct a number of evaluations on funded projects that include: the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. We created EduTrope for our evaluation and consulting work. What has set our evaluation and consulting work apart is our use of Q methodologya means to quantify people’s subjectivity.

Hot Tip: Q methodology begins with the construction of a set of statements. Participants then sort the statements in a forced distribution (see example figure below) from least believed or perceived (on the left) to most believed or perceived (on the right) prior to a meeting/gathering.


The sorts are factor analyzed to create groups. When participants arrive at the meeting we assign them a table. They sit with others who sorted the statements in a statistically similar fashion. Next, we empower participants to interpret their group’s distribution of statements. We ask them to create a name for their group.

This video is a demonstration of the Q process for evaluation from beginning to end.

Lesson Learned: Currently we are evaluating a Kellogg Foundation initiative: Community Learning Exchange (see communitylearningexchange.org). The Fall 2012 gathering was hosted by the Salish & Kootenai College in Montana. The theme was “Transforming Education from an Instrument of Historical Trauma to an Instrument of Healing.” We created a video representation of an indigenous story narrated by community members. The video was the used to gather input from tribal elders. Based on the feedback we created 31 statements.

60 gathering participants sorted the statements. Click the link below to participate in the actual sort. The process begins by watching the video that is embedded in this link.

Rad Resources: For more information on Q methodology visit www.qmethod.org.

Finally, this video provides testimony by people who have experienced the Q process in our evaluation work.

Want to learn more from Matt and Chris? Register for: Q Methodology: A Participatory Evaluation Approach That Quantifies Subjectivity at Evaluation 2013 in Washington, DC.

This week, we’re featuring posts by people who will be presenting Professional Development workshops at Evaluation 2013 in Washington, DC. Click here for a complete listing of Professional Development workshops offered at Evaluation 2013. 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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