ToE TIG Week: Applying Principles of Dialogue Education for Adult Learners of Evaluation by Elizabeth Henry

Elizabeth Henry
Elizabeth Henry

I’m Elizabeth Henry, and I work as a mixed-methods evaluation researcher in global health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. I also teach program evaluation at the Boston University School of Public Health. 

As instructors, too often we present content without allowing sufficient space and time for processing.  In this blogpost I’m sharing my own reflections on applying principles of Dialogue Education to teaching evaluation. I share a simple but effective strategy I have learned that empowers students to lead in their own process of learning.

On the first day of my course, I display an image of real data from a real program evaluation, similar to the example below, with some context about the program:

Line graph showing monthly rate of facility delivery January 2010 - December 2015 for intervention only

 After a brief introduction to the program and data, the questions begin:

Tables describing components, instructor-facilitated questions, and student responses to each

After processing these questions, I project a second slide, as shown below:

Line graph showing monthly rate of facility delivery January 2010 - December 2015 for intervention and comparison

 Now, no one wants to fund the program. Using the same four simple questions I can guide students to connect to concepts such as the importance of having a counterfactual, or collecting qualitative data to establish context. We contrast between power analyses, statistically significant differences, and meaningful differences.  We discuss baseline equivalence between study groups and using statistical matching techniques when the groups are balanced.

This strategy also provides a framework for the ongoing collaborative learning process as we question real-life case studies of evaluations to solidify core concepts.

Rad Resource:

Further reading on open questions and other strategies that have been developed as part of dialogue education by Dr. Jane Vella and associates can be found at: https://www.globallearningpartners.com/

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating TOE TIG Week with our colleagues in the Teaching of Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our TOE 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.

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