ToE TIG Week: Activity for Evaluating Items Commonly Found in a Home Using Evaluation Logic by Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead

Hello! I am Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead, an Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut. I am excited to share with you an activity I developed on evaluating everyday objects. I was motivated to develop this activity due to a shift to online education because of the coronavirus pandemic. This activity was inspired by Preskill and Russ-Eft’s Evaluating Chocolate Chip Cookies Using Evaluation Logic activity and has been extended in several ways.

Why I Love this Activity

The logic of evaluation is so central to our work; it is one thing that distinguishes Evaluation from related professions. What I love about the activity is that it can be tailored based on who is in the room, and the experiences and knowledge they bring with them. I also love that it helps promote reflective practice. Moreover, the basic structure can be extended further. It is an activity that can be revisited with different lenses or foci.

Activity Overview

The learning objectives include:

  • Be able to describe the logic of evaluation.
  • Apply the logic of evaluation to evaluate a common household item.
  • Articulate how the logic of evaluation is applicable across settings.

The activity starts with you asking learners to look around their house, locate one example of an item to be evaluated, and bring it with them. You get to decide what the item is! The key is to select something that everyone will have in their home no matter the culture or context. I have used shoes and eating utensils, but really it can be anything.

Once students have located this item, you explain that learners will be doing an evaluation of this item, distribute a handout, and describe the small group process.

Next, students work in small groups to do the item evaluation, using the handout to facilitate the process. This process requires learners to:

  • Identify evaluation criteria (e.g., shoe aesthetics),
  • Set standards of performance (e.g., 1=really ugly and 5=really beautiful),
  • Rate their items using their criteria and standards, and
  • Generate a final evaluative judgment. (Note that the process they use here is not representative of evaluation synthesis methods used in practice.)

Then, each group presents their evaluation findings to the class, which includes discussing their recommendation and the evaluative reasoning that went into it. The activity ends with a facilitated debriefing and a description of how the activity maps onto the logic of evaluation.

Rad Resource to Rock this Activity

Good teaching doesn’t just happen. Like evaluation, it requires critical thought and purposeful action. That said, we are all pressed for time. So, I prepared an online resource for you to engage with this activity:

This resource has several key features:

  1. It includes a fuller description.
  2. It includes handouts and slides that can be used/adapted!
  3. It describes facilitation differences for face-to-face, hybrid, or (a)synchronous formats.
  4. It provides teaching scripts.
  5. It walks through the activity debrief and offers two possible extensions.

In short, it is an entire activity that you can pick up and use. What’s radder than that!?!

Reflections on My Use of the Activity

Many of my students have said this activity really brings evaluation to life and helps them begin to “think like an evaluator.” It also tends to surface several important questions that are required for practice, such as, whose values are present and whose are missing; who gets to decide on criteria and standards, for what reasons, and is that the right thing to do; and how might criteria and standard selection shift the evaluation?

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Teaching of Evaluation TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the ToE Topical Interest Group. 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 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.

2 thoughts on “ToE TIG Week: Activity for Evaluating Items Commonly Found in a Home Using Evaluation Logic by Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead”

  1. I very much appreciate your students’ reflections. As I was reading the post and thinking about how it could be applied in a capacity building session with non-profits in South Africa, I wonder about whether it should be removed even further material objects found in homes so as to minimize the potential comparison between the have-mores and the have-lesses. Good food for thought.

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