Jun
29
Filed Under (Methodology, program evaluation) by Molly on 29-06-2015

Knowledge is personal!

A while ago I read a blog by Harold Jarche. He was talking about knowledge management (the field in which he works). That field  makes the claim that knowledge can be transferred; he makes the claim that knowledge cannot be transferred.  He goes on to say that we can share (transfer) information; we can share data; we cannot share knowledge. I say once we share the information, the other person has the choice to make that shared information part of her/his knowledge or not. Stories help individuals see (albeit, briefly) others’ knowledge.

Now,  puzzling the phrase, “Knowledge is personal”.  I would say, “The only thing ‘they” can’t take away from you is knowledge.” (The corollary to that is “They may take your car, your house, your life; they cannot take your knowledge!”).

So I am reminded, when I remember that knowledge is personal and cannot be taken away from you, that there are evaluation movements and models which are established to empower people with knowledge, specifically evaluation knowledge. I must wonder, then, if by sharing the information, we are sharing knowledge? If people are really empowered? To be sure, we share information (in this case about how to plan, implement, analyze, and report an evaluation). Is that sharing knowledge?

Fetterman (and Wandersman in their 2005 Guilford Press volume*)AA027003 says that “empowerment evaluation is committed to contributing to knowledge creation”. (Yes, they are citing Lentz, et al., 2005*; and Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995*., just to be transparent.) So I wonder, if knowledge is personal and known only to the individual, how can “they” say that empowerment evaluation is contributing to knowledge creation. Is it because knowledge is personal and every individual creates her/his own knowledge through that experience? Or does empowerment evaluation contribute NOT to knowledge creation but information creation? (NOTE: This is not a criticism of empowerment evaluation, only an example using empowerment evaluation of the dissonance I’m experiencing; in fact, Fetterman defines empowerment evaluation as “the use of evaluation concepts, techniques, and findings to foster improvement and self-determination”. It is only later in the volume cited that the statement of knowledge creation)

Given that knowledge is personal, it would make sense that knowledge is implicit and implicit knowledge requires interpretation to make sense of it. Hence, stories because stories can help share implicit knowledge. As each individual seeks information to become knowledge, that same individual makes that information into knowledge and that knowledge implicit.  Jarche says, “As each person seeks information, makes sense of it through reflection and articulation, and then shares it through conversation…” I would add, “and shared as information”.

Keep that in mind the next time you want to measure knowledge as part of KASA on a survey.

my two cents.

molly.

  1. * Fetterman, D. M. & Wandersman, A. (eds.) (2005). Empowerment evaluation principles in practice. New Y0rk: Guilford Press.
  2. Lentz, B. E., Imm, P. S., Yost, J. B., Johnson, N. P., Barron, C., Lindberg, M. S. & Treistman, J. In D. M. Fetterman & A. Wandersman (Eds.), Empowerment evaluation principles in practice. New York: Guilford Press.
  3. Nonaka, I., & Takeuchi, K. (1995). The knowledge creating company. New York: Oxford University Press.
Jun
08
Filed Under (program evaluation) by Molly on 08-06-2015

Thinking for yourself is a key competency for evaluators. Scriven says that critical thinking is “The name of an approach to or a subject within the curriculum that might equally well be called ‘evaluative thinking…’ “.

Certainly, one of the skills I taught my daughters from an early age is to evaluate experiences both qualitatively and quantitatively. They got so good at this exercise, they often preempted me with their reports. They learned early that critical thinking is evaluative, that critical doesn’t mean being negative, rather it means being thoughtful or analytical. Scriven goes on to say, “The result of critical thinking is in fact often to provide better support for a position under consideration or to create and support a new position.” I usually asked my girls to evaluate an experience to determine if we would do that experience (or want to do it) again.  Recently, I had the opportunity to do just that. My younger daughter had not been to the Ringling Museum in Sarasota FL; my older daughter had (she went to college in FL). She agreed, after she took me, that we needed to go as a family. We did. We all agreed that it was worth the price of admission. An example of critical thinking–where we provided support for a position under consideration.

Could we have done this without the ability to critically think? Maybe. Could we have come to an agreement that it was worth seeing more than once with out this ability? Probably not. Since the premise of this blog is that evaluation is something that everyone (whether they know it or not) does every day, then would it follow that critical thinking is done everyday? Probably. Yet, I wonder if you need this skill to get out of bed? To decide what to eat for breakfast? To develop the content of a blog? Do I need analysis and/or thoughtfulness to develop a content of a blog? It may help. Often, the content is what ever happens to catch my attention or stick in my caw the day I start my blog. Yet, I wonder…

Evaluation is an activity that requires thoughtfulness and analysis. Thoughtfulness in planning and implementing; analysis in implementing and data examination. Both in final report preparation and presentation. This is a skill that all evaluators need. It is not acquired as a function of birth; yet it is taught through application. But people may not have all the information they need. Can people (evaluators) be critical thinkers if they are not informed? Can people (evaluators)be thoughtful and analytical if they are not informed? Or just impassioned?  Does information just cloud the thoughtfulness and analysis? Something to ponder…

 

mytwo cents.

molly.

Jun
04
Filed Under (program evaluation) by Molly on 04-06-2015

Chris Lysy, at Fresh Spectrum, had a guest contributor in his most recent blog, Rakesh Mohan.

Rakesh says “…evaluators forget that evaluation is inherently political because it involves making judgment about prioritization, distribution, and use of resources.”

I agree that evaluators can make judgements about prioritization, distribution and resource use. I wonder if making judgements is built in to the role of evaluator; is even taught to the nascent evaluator? I also wonder if the Principal Investigator (PI) has much to say about the judgements. What if the evaluator interprets the findings one way and the PI doesn’t agree. Is that political? Or not. Does the PI have the final say about what the outcomes mean (the prioritization, distribution, and resource use)? Does the evaluator make recommendations or does the evaluator only draw conclusions? Then where do comments on the prioritization, the distribution, the resource use come into the discussion? Are they recommendations or are they conclusions?

I decided I would see what my library says about politics: Scriven’s Thesaurus* Scriven book covertalks about the politics of evaluation; Fitzpatrick, Sanders, and Worthen* fitzpatrick book 2 have a chapter on “Political, Interpersonal, and Ethical Issues in Evaluation” (chapter 3);  Rossi, Lipsey, and Freeman* have a section on political context (pp. 18-20) and a section on political process (pp. 381-393) that includes policy and policy implications. The 1982 Cronbach* lee j. cronbachvolume (Designing Evaluatations of Educational and Social Programs)  has a brief discussion (of multiple perspectives) and the classic 1980 volume, Toward Reform of Program Evaluationcronbach toward reform, also addresses the topic*. Least I neglect to include those authors who ascribe to the naturalistic approaches, Guba and Lincoln  talk about the politics of evaluation (pp. 295-299) in their1981  volume, Effective Evaluation effective evaluation. The political aspects of evaluation have been part of the field for a long time.

So–because politics has been and continues to be part of evaluation, perhaps what Mohan says is relevant. When I look at Scriven’s comments in the Thesauras, the comment that stands out is, “Better education for the citizen about –and in–evaluation, may be the best route to improvement, short of a political leader with the charisma to persuade us of anything and the brains to persuade us to imporve our critical thinking.”  Since the likelihood that we will see a political leader to persuade us is slim, perhaps education is the best approach. And like Mohan says, invite them to the conference. (After all, education comes in all sizes and experiences.) Perhaps then policy makers, politicians, press, and public will be able understand and make a difference BECAUSE OF EVALUATION!

 

*Scriven, M. (1991). Evaluation thesaurus. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

*Fitzpatrick, J. L., Sanders, J. R., & Worthen, B. R. (2011). Program evaluation: Alternative approaches and practical guidelines. (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson

*Rossi, P. H., Lipsey, M. W., & Freeman, H. E. (2004). Evaluation: A systematic approach (7th ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

*Cronbach, L. J. (1982). Designing evaluations of educational and social programs. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc. Publishers.

*Cronbach, L. J. et al. (1980). Toward reform of program evaluation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc. Publishers.

*Guba, E. G. & Lincoln, Y. S. (1981). Effective evaluation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc. Publishers.