Jason Ravitz (Google) and David Fetterman (Fetterman & Associates, past-president of AEA, and founder of empowerment evaluation) have been using empowerment evaluation in various educational settings, including a graduate school program and with Kathy Haynie (Haynie Research and Evaluation) and Tom McKlin (The Findings Group), in our work with two computer science education evaluation learning communities.
Empowerment evaluation is the use of evaluation concepts, techniques, and findings to foster improvement and self-determination. This approach aims to increase the likelihood that programs will achieve results by increasing the capacity of program stakeholders to plan, implement, and evaluate their own programs.
3-Step Approach. One empowerment evaluation approach involves helping a group: 1) establish their mission; 2) take stock of their current status; and 3) plan for the future. Additional tools include an evaluation dashboard to help communities monitor their own progress.
CS/STEM Learning Communities. The “Evaluation Wrecking Crew” includes over 60 CS education evaluators across the country. A second group (with some overlap) is the NSF-funded Computer Science Outcomes Networked Improvement Community (CSONIC).
We have joined forces to: 1) build a CS/STEM repository of evaluation instruments and approaches; 2) build a common hub for the community, with the assistance of Oak Ridge Associated Universities; and 3) educate the CS community about the value and role of evaluation to improve the quality of CS and STEM education. We meet biweekly using Zoom video-conferencing software.
Kathy Haynie (Haynie Research and Evaluation) Remotely Facilitates Bi-monthly Meetings
Online Spreadsheet. Jason designed a 3-step online spreadsheet, using Google Sheets, to facilitate the empowerment evaluation process used in both the Evaluation Wrecking Crew and CSONIC workshops.
Mission. Our collaborative process allowed workshop members to remotely record their views about the mission or purpose of the group. Later comments were transformed into a mission statement (using Google Docs).
Taking Stock. A second sheet in the spreadsheet was devoted to “brainstorming” a list of the group’s most important activities. Members prioritized the list by “voting” for the most important activities to evaluate as a group.
A third sheet was populated with the list of the prioritized activities. The online workshop participants used a 1 (low) to 10 (high) scale to rate their performance on the “taking stock” sheet. We used the results to facilitate a dialogue about the ratings using videoconferencing software and referencing participants’ ratings.
Planning for the Future. We used a fourth sheet to help the group record plans for the future, specifying goals, strategies, and evidence.
Evaluation Dashboard. A final sheet was devoted to the dashboard to help us monitor our own performance. It included: goals, strategies, and evidence.
Computer Science Education Evaluators Conducting an Empowerment Evaluation Online
Free Template. This spreadsheet is available (free) to use to facilitate your own empowerment evaluation exercise remotely: tinyurl.com/eeblank.
Other free tools we have used include Google Forms to help graduate students evaluate their own as well as their peers’ work. We used these data to assess students’ performance, and in the process, make mid-course corrections concerning our instruction. Finally, we used Google Evaluation Worksheets to help them refine their proposals: /tinyurl.com/evalworksheet-google Additional resources can be found here (https://tinyurl.com/empowermentevaluationresources).
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