ToE TIG Week: Developing Your Next Evaluation Lesson by Aileen Reid

Welcome to a week of AEA blog posts sponsored by the Teaching of Evaluation (ToE) TIG. I am Aileen Reid, Assistant Professor in the Educational Research Methodology department at UNC Greensboro, and co-chair of the Teaching of Evaluation TIG. The ToE TIG aims to provide resources to educators that are focused on teaching pedagogical theory, methods, and practice in evaluation. This week, ToE members share their favorite evaluation lesson that they like to teach or facilitate. They describe their lesson plan, the objectives for the lesson, how they prepare, as well as reflections and takeaways from the lessons.

Let’s face it, planning a lesson of any kind takes time. Rarely do we hit it right out of the park      on the first try. We must revise the lesson several times before we hit our sweet spot. In the classroom, when we miss the mark, we have the advantage of clarifying anything we missed with the same group of students in the next class session or building upon concepts throughout the semester. That is not always the case if we’re leading or facilitating groups where we only have one shot, such as with one-day trainings. Sometimes the only option is to revise the lesson and aim to improve it with the next group.

It is important for all of us to reflect on our teaching and training practices critically and intentionally in order to produce the best outcomes for those we are trying to reach. As a preamble to our ToE week, check out the following hot tips for developing your next evaluation lesson.

Hot Tips:

Consider your audience. Before introducing evaluation terms, strategies, or methods, consider whether topics and concepts are in the lexicon of the culture, sectors, fields, or disciplines you are working with. Concepts an evaluation professional might use such as “theory of change,” “logic model,” or even “culturally responsive,” are not generally used and are not easily understood by all. When planning lessons, define terms, provide a glossary, and do your best to use examples that resonate with the audience’s sector or disciplinary area.

Don’t forget to break the ice. Icebreakers or warmups are effective teaching tools, particularly in settings with groups from different backgrounds. A challenge to good education is building relationships and establishing human connections in the space being shared. Build in warmup activities that will put learners at ease and in an “evaluation state of mind.” 

Constructive feedback goes a long way. Create fun, low-stress opportunities for peer feedback. For example, in teaching logic models, I have used a gallery walk to allow participants to show their work and receive feedback via post-it notes left on their artifact. In a virtual setting, the same concept can be accomplished with Jamboard. Participants can upload their work and others can click through to leave feedback using post-it notes. 

In addition to these tips, check out this week’s posts to learn the hot tips and cool tricks that fellow educators share and gain further insight to improve your favorite evaluation lesson(s).

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.

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