Aug
31
Filed Under (program evaluation) by Molly on 31-08-2016

AEA365 is honoring living evaluators for Labor Day (Monday, September 5, 2016).

Some of the living evaluators I know (Jim Altschuld, Tom Chapel, Michael Patton, Karen Kirkhart, Mel Mark, Lois-Ellin Datta, Bob Stake); Some of them I don’t know (Norma Martinez-Rubin, Nora F. Murphy, Ruth P. Saunders, Art Hernandez, Debra Joy Perez). One I’m not sure of at all (Mariana Enriquez).  Over the next two weeks, AEA365 is hosting a recognition of living evaluator luminaries.

The wonderful thing is that this give me an opportunity to check out those I don’t know; to read about how others see them, what makes them special. I know that the relationships that develop over the years are dear, very dear.

I also know that the contributions that  these folks have made to evaluation cannot be captured in 450 words (although we try). They are living giants, legends if you will.

These living evaluators have helped move the field to where it is today. Documenting their contributions to evaluation enriches the field. We remember them fondly.

If you don’t know them, look for them at AEA ’16 in Atlanta atlanta-georgia-skyline. Check out their professional development sessions or their other contributions (paper, poster, round-table, books, etc). Many of them have been significant contributors to AEA; some have only been with AEA since the early part of this century. All have made a meaningful contribution to AEA.

Many evaluators could be mentioned and are not. Sheila B. Robinson suggests that “…we recognize that many, many evaluators could and should be honored as well as the 13 we feature this time, and we hope to offer another invitation next year for those who would like to contribute a post, so look for that around this time next year, and sign up!

Evaluators honored

altschuld       Thomas J. Chapel

James W. Altschuld            Thomas J. Chapel

Norma Martinez-Rubin              Patton

Norma Martinez-Rubin            Michael Quinn Patton

 

       Ruth P. Saunders

Nora F. Murphy                                     Ruth P. Saunders

 

ArthurHernandez                  Kirkhart

Art Hernandez                          Karen Kirkhart

Melvin Mark            Loisellen datta

Mel Mark                                       Lois-Ellin Datta

debra-perez-thumbnail-340x340       bob stake 2

Debra Joy Perez                           Bob Stake

ghost_person_60x60_v1

Mariana Enriquez (Photo not known/found)

my two cents.

molly.

Sheila Robinson has an interesting post which she titled “Outputs are for programs. Outcomes are for people.”  Sounds like a logic model to me.

Evaluating something (a strategic plan, an administrative model, a range management program) can be problematic. Especially if all you do is count. So “Do you want to count?” OR “Do you want to determine what difference you made?” I think it all relates to outputs and outcomes.

 

Logic model

 

The model below explains the difference between outputs and outcomes.

.logicmodel (I tried to find a link on the University of Wisconsin website and UNFORTUNATELY it is no longer there…go figure. Thanks to Sheila, I found this link which talks about outputs and outcomes) I think this model makes clear the  difference between Outputs (activities and participation) and Outcomes-Impact (learning, behavior, and conditions). Read the rest of this entry »

Aug
19
Filed Under (criteria, program evaluation) by Molly on 19-08-2016

Probable? Maybe. Making a difference is always possible.

Oxford English Dictionary defines possible as capable of being (may/can exist, be done, or happen). It  defines probable as worthy of acceptance, believable.

Ray Bradbury Ray Bradbury: “I define science fiction as the art of the possible. Fantasy is the art of the impossible.”

Somebody asked me what was the difference between science fiction and fantasy. Certainly the simple approach is that science fiction deals with the possible (if you can think it, it can happen). Fantasy deals with monsters, fairies, goblins, and other mythical creatures, i.e., majic and majical creatures.

(Disclaimer: I personally believe in majic; much of fantasy deals with magic.) I love the Arthurian legend (it could be fantasy; it has endured for so long it is believable). It is full of majic. I especially like  the Marion Zimmer Bradley MarionZimmerBradley book, The Mists of Avalon Mists_of_Avalon-1st_ed. (I find the feminist perspective refreshing.)

Is fantasy always impossible as Bradbury suggests, or is it just improbable?  (Do the rules of physics apply?) This takes me back to Bradbury’s quote and evaluation after the minor digression. Bradbury also says that “Science fiction, again, is the history of ideas, and they’re always ideas that work themselves out and become real and happen in the world.” Not unlike evaluation. Evaluation works itself out and becomes real and happens. Usually.

Evaluation and the possible.

Often, I am invited to be the evaluator of record after the program has started. I sigh. Then I have a lot of work to do. I must teach folks that evaluation is not an “add on” activity. I  must also teach the folks how to identify the difference the program made. Then there is the issue of outputs (activities, participants) vs. outcomes (learning, behavior, conditions). Many principal investigators want to count differences pre-post.

Does the “how many” provide a picture of what difference the program made? If you start with no or few participants  and you end with many participants, have you made a difference? Yes, it is possible to count. Counts often meet reporting requirements. They are possible. So is documenting the change in knowledge, behavior, and conditions. It takes more work and more money. It is possible. Will you get to world peace? Probably not. Even if you can think it. World peace may be probable; it may not be possible (at least in my lifetime).

my two cents.

molly.

 

Aug
12
Filed Under (Methodology, program evaluation) by Molly on 12-08-2016

AEA365 ran a blog on vulnerability vulnerability linkrecently (August 5, 2016). It cited the TED talk by Brené Brown brene brown on vulnerability on the same topic. Although I really enjoyed the talk (I haven’t met a TED talk I didn’t like), it was more than her discussion of vulnerability that I enjoyed (although I certainly enjoyed learning that vulnerability is the birth place of joy and connection is why we are here .

She talked about story and its relationship to qualitative data. She says that she is a qualitative researcher and she collects stories. She says that “stories are just data with a soul”. That made a lot of sense to me.

See, I’ve been struggling to figure out how to turn the story into a meaningful outcome without reducing it to a number. (I do not have an answer, yet. If any of you have any ideas, let me know.) She says (quoting a former research professor) that if you cannot measure it, it does not exist. If it doesn’t exist then is what ever you are studying a figment of your imagination? So is there a way to capture a story and aggregate that story with other similar stories to get an outcome WITHOUT REDUCING IT TO A NUMBER? So given that stories are often messy, and given that stories are often complicated, and given that stories are rich in what they tell the researcher, it occurred to me that stories are more than themes and and content analysis. Stories are “data with a soul”.

Qualitative Data

Yet any book on qualitative data analysis (for example qualitative data coding or Qualitative data analysis ed. 3 or Bernard qualitative data analysis ed 1) you will see that there is confusion in the analysis process. Is it the analysis of qualitative data OR is it the qualitative analysis of data. Where do you put the modifier “qualitative”? To understand the distinction, a 2×2 visual might be helpful. (Adapted from Bernard, H. R. & Ryan, G. W. (1996). Qualitative data, quantitative analysis. Cultural Anthropology Methods Journal, 8(1), 9 – 11. Copyright © 1996 Sage Publications.)

2x2 data analysis

We are doing data analysis in all four quadrants. We are analyzing and capturing the deeper meaning of the data in cell A. Yes, we are analyzing data in other cells (B, C, and D) just not the capturing the deeper meaning of those data. Cell D is the quantitative analysis of quantitative data; Cell B is the qualitative analysis of quantitative data; and Cell C is the quantitative analysis of qualitative data. So the question becomes “Do you want deeper meaning from your data?” or “Do you want a number from your data?” (I’m still working on relating this to story!)

It all depends on what you want when you analyze your data. If you want to reduce it to a number, focus on cells B, C, and D. If you want deeper meaning, focus on cell A. Depending on what you want (and how you interpret the data) will be the place where the personal and situational bias occur. No, you cannot be the “objective and dispassionate” scientist. Doesn’t happen in today’s world (probably ever–only I can only speak of today’s world). Everyone has biases and they rear their heads (perhaps ugly heads) when least expected.

You have to try. Regardless.

my two cents.

molly.

 

 

Aug
05
Filed Under (criteria, program evaluation) by Molly on 05-08-2016

To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart. ~~Eleanor Roosevelt eleanor roosevelt

This quote is often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962); there are some sites that attribute this quote to Donald Anderson Laird (1897-1969), a psychologist and author (no photo found). Probably, more accurate. I’m not sure that the origin of the saying is really important. It may be enough to keep in mind the saying itself. (I know–how does this relate to evaluation? Trust me, it does.)

Before I was an evaluator, I was a child therapist (I also treated young women). I learned many skills as a therapist that have served me well as an evaluator. Skills like listening, standing up for your self, looking at alternatives. Which leads me to this saying. I had to “handle” others all the time at the same time I had to “handle” my self. I could not “blow up” when reprimanded. I could not become discouraged when someone (the client, the funder) criticized me. I had to learn to laugh when the joke was on me. I had to keep my spirits up when things went wrong. I had to keep cool in emergencies. I had to learn to tune out gossip and negative comments from others. This was a hard time for me. I tend to be passionate when I have an opinion; I have/had opinions (often).

As an evaluator, I am still passionate. Once my evaluation “on” button is pushed, it is hard to turn it off. Yet I still have to handle people. This morning, for example, I met with a fellow faculty member. I had to listen. I had to look for (and at) alternatives. I “handled” with my head; remember, I am passionate about evaluation. I provided her with alternatives and followed through with those alternatives. I handled with my heart.

When others are involved (and in evaluation there are always others), they must be handled with care, with the heart. It goes back to the standards (propriety) The_Program_Evaluation_Standards_3ed and the guiding principles Guiding principles  (integrity/honesty, direct respect for people, and responsibilities for general and public welfare).  In the current times, it is especially important to have direct respect for people. All people. (Regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sex, national origin, veteran status, and disability.) To be honest and have integrity. One way to make sure you have integrity is to handle with your heart.