Hello! I am Sheila Robinson Kohn, and I teach Program Evaluation Methods at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education. In June 2010, my post Using the AEA365 Blog as a Teaching Tool appeared here, and since then, my graduate students have continued to read and share aea365 blog entries in class. Last November, my colleague Kankana Mukhopadhyay and I gave a presentation on the topic at Evaluation 2011.
After three semesters using AEA365 with students (as an assignment in which they read and shared blog posts in class to generate discussion on evaluation topics of interest to them), we asked their thoughts on reading the blog. We learned that students use a variety of strategies to access posts of interest to them. Naturally, some use keywords in the search box, while others look for posts tagged for a TIG of interest. One student told us he took great pleasure in searching the “uncategorized” posts looking for gems! Students appreciate the simple structure, casual language, and brevity of the posts. Reading AEA365 generated further interest in evaluation and some found themselves wanting to read more and know more about the field as a result of this assignment.
Lessons Learned: Students told us that reading AEA365:
- helps them understand evaluation from multiple perspectives
- offers a wealth of resources to them
- gives them an idea of the breadth and vastness of this field
- makes the evaluation community approachable and accessible to them
The AEA365 assignment is not without challenges for some students. Some feel that the breadth of the field is so great that they get “lost” in it. Others have difficulty sorting out information because blog entries do not necessarily connect directly to course readings and discussions. Given other reading and writing assignments, some wish they had more time to devote to reading AEA365.
Hot Tip: As a form of new media literacy, blogs can be effective teaching and learning tools with their ability to stretch beyond the traditional classroom style. If you teach evaluation courses, ask students to read and choose AEA365 posts to share with the class. You may even consider, as we have, assigning students to comment on posts, or to compose and perhaps submit their own AEA365 post. You may direct students to read certain entries that correspond with topics in your syllabus, or ask them to explore other evaluation blogs in conjunction with AEA365. These exercises would lead to a natural acculturation of the students with the evaluation community.
Rad Resource: AEA365 of course! Students told us that it helps them bridge the ever-challenging evaluation theory-practice gap.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators