TOE TIG Week: Teaching Evaluation During Societal Turbulence by Jill Hendrickson Lohmeier

Welcome to a week of Teaching of Evaluation TIG blog posts for AEA 365!  I’m Jill Hendrickson Lohmeier, an Associate Professor of Research and Evaluation in Education at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and part of the Teaching of Evaluation TIG leadership team. This week, the Teaching of Evaluation TIG will be writing tips about changes they made in teaching during the past year as they responded to the societal turbulence that we all faced this year.  While each blog this week focuses on an individual’s approach to teaching during 2020/2021, the underlying message is that as educators we MUST pay attention to the context in which our students are experiencing their education. Additionally, in paying attention to that context, we model good evaluation practice.

“To know an object is to lead to it through a context which the world provides.”

– William James

Hot Tip:

When we experience things that change the context of our education, we have an excellent opportunity in teaching evaluation to focus on the importance of context in evaluation. 

This past year it was obvious to our students that societal context impacted our students’ educational environment.  As they are experiencing that impact, a teacher can integrate discussion about how that context is impacting education. Then it is easy to link understanding their experiences to the importance of understanding context in evaluation. 

Teaching students to understand context in evaluation can include helping them to recognize the potential impact of societal context on programs and to incorporate the story of the context in which a program operates as an essential part of an evaluation.  As the other educators will explain this week, you can do this by using specific methodologies such as PhotoVoice, culturally responsive or brain compatible teaching, or you can model dealing with the context by offering grace to students experiencing unique challenges.  In so doing, you can then provide and model skills (PhotoVoice, etc.) that they can use with evaluands when conducting evaluation. 

Thus, the essential hot tip this week is, in your teaching, model techniques that evaluators themselves might use with evaluands to deal with societal challenges that alter the context within which a program they might evaluate sits.  Use the challenge of teaching during turbulence to teach them to recognize that an evaluator must understand the specific context they are operating within in order to conduct an effective and authentic evaluation.

Looking forward to a week of inspiring teaching of evaluation posts! Tweet your reflections on this week’s posts using the hashtag #TeachingofEval21, and we can continue the conversation on the twitterverse!

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. 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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