PreK-12 Ed Eval TIG Week: “Learning as We Go” in Surfacing the Real Stories and Harnessing our Potential as Blue Marble Evaluators by Keiko Kuji-Shikatani, Wendy Rowe, and Chi Yan Lam

Hi! We are Keiko Kuji-Shikatani, Canadian Evaluation Society Fellow and Credentialed Evaluator, Wendy Rowe from the School of Leadership at Royal Roads University in Canada and Credentialed Evaluator, and Chi Yan Lam, Faculty of Education and Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University and Credentialed Evaluator.

Unimaginable violence against the children, youth and families of Ukraine, the painful truth about children buried in the former Indian Residential School sites all over Canada, and the pandemic are all reminding us that peoples around the world share something in common at the core and that we all must intentionally and collaboratively nurture what we hold dear.

Individuals matter as our actions have reverberating consequences for others. Systems matter as the issues that surface have dire consequences for the individuals that interact within the systems.

In Ukraine and other countries where conflict and violence are impacting on the physical and psychological safety of children, disruptions to schooling and learning hamper the development of the future generation.

As evaluators working with children and youth for over 30 years, we are realizing that we have to step-up and speak Truth to Power more actively– here and now– so evaluation can influence and be used for a much better world than the one we are witnessing today for all our children. Some questions we must consider include:

  • How can evaluators actively support and influence policies, programs, and strategies that facilitate learning and development of children, their families and communities even under these terrible conditions of conflict?  
  • How can our education systems be informed by indisputable reality and evidence in front of them, so to pivot and collaborate to move forward in a good and just way?
  • How can we truly embrace Learning as we go (a.k.a. principle-focused developmental evaluation), and what does it look like– working from local to macro, simple to complex?
Get Involved

To deal with the complexities of global issues and problems we need principles to guide us, not a rule book to tie us down.

Blue Marble Evaluation

In a context of constant disruption, change, and limited resources, approaches such as global thinking, engagement, and real time action are key to recognizing opportunities and developing innovative solutions to deliver education ‘outside of the box’. 

Know your Goals

Be daring and innovative about different ways to getting there. (Put differently, do not become dogmatic about the way to achieving your goals.)  Explore new options, get feedback, listen to everyone. It’s a learning process of trial and error.

Hot Tip

Student voice matters. Find out ways to connect with the trusted, caring adults who can connect with the children and families. Listen to the students. We as evaluators know that problems cannot be addressed if we don’t even know what they are. Let’s use our tools that we have now to surface the voices through layers of the system and get your networks to work together for that sustainable collective impact.  

Cool Trick

Technology has its price. Use basic, everyday work tools well. Use your evaluator interpersonal skills and collaborate. Make the evaluation tools you use your own, for they ultimately need to be made comprehensible to your users. I have been using Learning as we go to describe Principle-focused DE for over a decade. People are already addressing complex issues and evaluators do not need to get in their way. Logic models are referred to as journey maps to share their program theory. Free yourself from being a technical report writing machine, share the knowledge in the way that people will be able to access and use.

Celebrate the Small Wins

Recognize the small wins. Celebrate together and move forward. Transformation is often to be found in unexpected ways.

Lesson Learned

My African friends taught me that if we want to go far, go together. Build your network and share through our network of Voluntary Organizations for Professional Evaluators. Email us, and don’t limit yourself to 157 characters! We are in this together. 


The American Evaluation Association is hosting PreK-12 Ed Eval TIG Week with our colleagues in the PreK-12 Educational Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our PreK-12 Ed Eval 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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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