Jan
23
Filed Under (program evaluation) by Molly on 23-01-2015 and tagged ,

I was reading Harold Jarche’s blog, Perpetual Beta and he is talking about the interface of the digital and analog worlds; he is talking about connections. connections 2 I find that that concept applies to evaluators. Here’s how.

I was trained as an evaluator in the 1980s; we didn’t have access to the web, internet, email, FB, or many of the other high technology options available today. I did an NDE (wasn’t called that then) volume (Vol. 62) which was all done by hard copy and the USPS (a tedious and laborious process). I just completed another NDE (now called that) volume (Vol. 145) that was done electronically (no longer tedious, though still a laborious process). This last volume was quick. Although most of the authors entered the field after I did, my co-editor didn’t; he entered before I did. These authors had the luxury of electronics that we didn’t have. I have had to learn how to use electronics; I know my co-editor did, too. (I remember saying to myself and my colleagues, what will my secretary [yes, we used that title] do now that I’m composing on a key-board?) Now I do all my composing and other things on a keyboard; most of my work is augmented with electronics (i.e., the digital world). But I am truly a digital immigrant; learning how to use this new technology, to be in this digital world, is hard for and on me. (My children laugh at me and get exasperated; it is so simple to them.)

Today’s evaluators are highly connected, largely due to the electronic capabilitieselectronic connections. Yet there is still evaluator isolation. Makes me wonder if evaluators really connected? Sheila Robinson (the only evaluator in her organization bemoans this fact here). She advocates for connections through EvalTalk and AEA’s LinkedIn account. I still see these as digital, albeit, opportunities to connect. Social media is also mentioned for connections. Still I wonder–are you really connected? With colleagues scattered around the world, this may truly be the only way to stay connected today. Letters and phone calls are truly analog and perhaps passe. Still they are appreciated and sometimes welcome as the only way to connect. What will this world look like if the only way to connect is via digital?

Jarach advocates changing the way we organize. To me that talks about changing the way we work. Maybe evaluators will work in isolation. In order to “see as many possible roads ahead”, perhaps we need to “work in self-managing networks”. networks 2 “If those who are educated, knowledgeable, and experienced do not push for a better world of work, then who will? An effective knowledge network cultivates the diversity and autonomy of each worker. Knowledge networks function best when each person can choose with whom and when they connect. Solving problems together is becoming the real business challenge.” (From Jarach)

And that affects evaluators!

To whom are you connected? How do you connect? Are you caught in-between?

mytwo cents.

molly.

Jan
15
Filed Under (program evaluation) by Molly on 15-01-2015 and tagged , ,

A reader made the comment that “blogging is like doing case studies”.blog Made me think about the similarities and differences. Since case studycase-study  is a well known qualitative method used in evaluation with small samples, I think this view is valid.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jan
07
Filed Under (program evaluation) by Molly on 07-01-2015 and tagged

2015 International year of evaluationI am reminded that 2015 is an important year to all evaluators.

The website, mymande.org/evalyear, , has devoted an entire page to the announcement. They are calling it “EvalYear”. You are invited to join the global year by visiting the mymande website. This web site explains more about the international year of evaluation. Check it out.

The year becomes important when one advocates for evaluation, when one does evaluation, when one supports an evaluator, and/or when one is an evaluator.

What can you do to contribute to 2015; to make 2015 truly an evaluation year?

 

my two cents.

molly.

 

 

 

I’ve talked about bias bias 2before (cognitive bias; personal and situational bias); I’ve probably talked about bias in surveys and sampling. Today I want to talk specifically about self report bias…you know, the bias that exists when people answer questions themselves (as opposed to having their behavior be observed).

First, what is self-report bias (often called self-response bias)? It is the bias that exists when people answer survey questions by themselves. Everyone has this bias; it is unavoidable. It can be seen as social desirability bias (what the the respondent thinks the survey writer wants to hear); self-selection bias (a person decides to respond when invited as opposed to not responding); and what I’m going to call a “clarity bias” (whether the respondent understands the survey content).

I’m finding more and more that the five the number 2 5Cs-5-CorrectnessS of good writing are applicable to all writing–fiction, non-fiction, scholarly, SURVEY. If the survey isn’t clear, the respondent isn’t going to be able to answer in a way that is meaningful. If the respondent cannot answer the survey in a way that is meaningful, there will be no meaningful data. If data are not meaningful, then the evaluation will not be able to tell you the value or merit or worth of the project being evaluated.

It is important to

  1. Pilot test the survey before sending it out to the target audience.
  2. Have naive readers read over the survey (different from pilot testing).
  3. Only ask one thing at a time in the questions.

I’m sure there are other things that would help minimize bias–let me know other options used.

Bottom line: Self report bias is always part of evaluation that involves people; it can be minimized.

New topic.

This is the time of year that one thinks about changes and how one will do that in the new year. Yet, those changes often fall by the way side, getting left in the dust (so to speak) of every day life. One way I’ve kept those changes fresh is to follow how the new year presents itself. There is the calendar new yearnew_year_2015 (on January 1); there is the lunar new year 2015-Chinese-New-Year-Free-Design(this year on February 19, the year of the goat); there is the spring equinox spring equinox (norooz, the Persian new year); Rosh Hashanarosh_hashanah (Jewish new year beginning on the evening of September 13); there is the Islamic new yearislamic-new-year-1024x768, the Thai new yearThai new year, the Ethiopian new yearethiopian new year, and the list goes on.  (What is your favorite new year and new year’s celebration?) By refreshing the year regularly, I can keep my “resolutions” alive all year. My wish for you is a prosperous and healthy new year. Welcome 2015.

 

mytwo cents.

molly.

Dec
22
Filed Under (program evaluation) by Molly on 22-12-2014 and tagged , , ,

The world tilted yesterday at 3:03pm PST. Today is the first day of winter. The dawn (yes, actually the dawn–the return of the light/sun/longer days) was glorious. For those of us who celebrate such things, the easiest way for me to measure the solstice is if there is sun on the first day of winter. There was.

I think this year is especially wonderful (the end of year is usually so–this year is especially so)–Hanukkahhanukkah lights 2 is still happening (tonight is the seventh night), Solsticesolstice bonfire occurred yesterday, and Christmaschristmas 3 will happen Thursday.

All that light. I can almost forget that it is cold, dark, and rainy here in Oregon. Almost. For the first day of winter, it is remarkably dry (for Oregon in winter) and warm (55° degrees). This bodes well. Last year by this time we had had an enduring snow; the schools were closed for a week (we would have another snow [and the requisite snow days] in February). Although I would be hard pressed to say it is balmy, 55° is hardly cold (sure colder than Florida at 73°). My daughters are rejoicing in the warmth.

This is such a magical time of year. What makes it magical is an evaluative question. Everyone will answer this question differently. For me, it is having my daughterschristmas 2015-2 home–their presence is my present. It will carry me through the new year. Read the rest of this entry »

This will be short.

I showed a revised version of Alkin’s Evaluation Theory Tree in last week’s post. It had leaves. It looked like this:Evaluation theory tree edition 2

It was taken from the second edition of Alkin’s book.

I have had two comments about this tree.

  1. There are few women represented in the tree. (True, especially in the draft version; in version above there are more.)
  2. I was reminded about the  Fred  Carden and Marvin C. Alkin’s article in the Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation, 8(17), January 2012. (There are still more leaves and the global south is represented.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Recently, I got a copy of Marvin Alkin’s book, Evaluation Roots (his first edition; eventually, I will get the second edition).

In Chapter Two, he and Tina Christie talk about an evaluation theory tree and presents this idea graphically (all be it in draft form).

Think of your typical tree with three strong branches (no leaves) and two roots. Using this metaphor, the authors explain the development of evaluation theory as it appears in western (read global north) societies.evaluation theory tree

As you can see, the roots are “accountability and control” (positivist paradigm?) and social inquiry (post-positivist paradigm?). Read the rest of this entry »

Personal and situational bias are forms of cognitive bias and we all have cognitive bias.

When I did my dissertation on personal and situational biases, I was talking about cognitive bias (only I didn’t know it, then).

According to Wikipedia, the term cognitive bias was introduced in 1972 (I defended my dissertation in 1983) by two psychologists Daniel Kahneman  and Amos Tversky kahneman-tversky1.

Then, I hypothesized that previous research experience (naive or sophisticated)  and the effects of exposure to expected project outcomes (positive, mixed, negative) would affect the participant and make a difference in how the participant would code data. (It did.)  The Sadler article which talked about intuitive data processing was the basis for this inquiry. Now many years later, I am encountering cognitive bias again. Sadler says that “…some biases can be traced to a particular background knowledge…”(or possibly–I think–lack of knowledge), “…prior experience, emotional makeup or world view”. bias 4 (This, I think, falls under the category of, according to Tversky and Kahneman, human judgements and it will differ from rational choice theory (often given that label). Read the rest of this entry »

Nov
25
Filed Under (criteria, program evaluation) by Molly on 25-11-2014 and tagged , , , , ,

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving.

A uniquely American holiday (although it is celebrated in other countries as well-Canada, Liberia, The Netherlands, Norfolk Islands),

filled with too much food (pie any one?) apple pie,

too much football (what is your favorite rivalry?),football rivalry

and too much shopping (black Friday?).black-friday 3

 

For me it is an opportunity to to be grateful–and I am, more than words can express. I am especially grateful for my daughters, bright, articulate, and caring children (who are also adults). Read the rest of this entry »

Nov
19
Filed Under (criteria, program evaluation) by Molly on 19-11-2014

It all depends.

The classic evaluation response. In fact, it is the punch line for one of the few evaluation jokes I can remember (some-timers disease being what it is; if you want to know the joke, ask in your comment).

The response reminds me of something I heard (once again) while I was in Denver. One of the presenters at a session on competencies, certification, credentialing (an indirectly, about accreditation) talked about a criteria for evaluators that is not taught in preparatory programs–the tolerance for ambiguity.  Tolerance for Ambiguity (What do you see in this image?)

What is this tolerance? What is ambiguity?

According to Webster’s Seventh, tolerance is the noun form of the verb “to tolerate” and means “…the relative capacity to endure or adapt physiologically to an unfavorable environmental factor…” also defined as “…sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own; the act of allowing something; allowable deviation from a standard…”.

Using the same source, ambiguity (also a noun) means “…the quality or state of being ambiguous in meaning…” OK. Going on to ambiguous (the root of the word), it  is an adjective meaning “…doubtful or uncertain especially from obscurity or indistinctness…capable of being understood in two or more possible senses…”. Personally, I find the “capable of being understood in two or more possible senses…” relevant to evaluation and to evaluators.

Yet, I have to ask, What does all that mean? It all depends.

Read the rest of this entry »