(Thank you for this thought, Plexus Institute.)
No, I’m not talking about the current political situation in the US. I’m talking about evaluation.
Art Markman makes this comment (the “how do we make decisions…” comment) here. He says “If you dislike every choice you’ve got, you’ll look for one to reject rather than one to prefer—subtle difference, big consequences.” He based this opinion on research, saying that the rejection mind-set allows us to focus on negative information about options and fixate on the one with the smallest downside. Read the rest of this entry »
Thinking. We do it all the time (hopefully). It is crucial to making even the smallest decisions (what to wear, what to eat), and bigger decisions (where to go, what to do). Given this challenging time, even news watchers would be advised to use evaluative and critical thinking. Especially since evaluation is an everyday activity.
This graphic was provided by WNYC. (There are other graphics; use your search engine to find them.)This graphic makes good sense to me and this applies to almost every news cast (even those without a shooter!). Read the rest of this entry »
The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you have not found it yet, keep looking. Do not settle. ~~Steve Jobs.
I made choices about the work I did. I made choices about the life I lived. I did not settle.
It is an easy life to “go with the flow”; to settle, if you will. Convenience is not always the best way even though it might be the easiest. Did I do great work? I don’t know. Did I hear stories of the work I did? I was told after the fact that I had made a difference because of the work I had done. Perhaps, making a difference is doing great work. Perhaps.
However, this quote from Steve Jobs reminded me that loving what one does is important, even if one does not do “great work”. If one does not love what one does, one needs to do what one loves. Read the rest of this entry »
That is not easy. I ride my bike all the time. (Yep. Really.) I compost. I grow my own vegetables in the summer and support my farmers’ market and CSA (both of which, thankfully, run through Thanksgiving). But I ask my self, “Am I making a difference?” Read the rest of this entry »
Having written about evaluation history previously, I identified those who contributed, not those who could be called evaluation pioneers; rather those who had influenced my thinking. I think it is noteworthy to mention those evaluation pioneers who set the field on the path we see today, those whom I didn’t mention and need to be. As a memorial (it is Memorial Day weekend , after all), Michael Patton (whom I’ve mentioned previously) is coordinating an AEA365 to identify and honor those evaluation pioneers who are no longer with us. (Thank you, Michael). The AEA365 link above will give you more details. I’ve also linked the mentioned evaluation pioneers that have been remembered. Some of these pioneers I’ve mentioned before; all are giants in the field; some are dearly loved as well. All those listed below have died. Patton talks about the recent-dead, the sasha, and the long-dead, the zamani. He cites the Historian James W. Loewen when he makes this distinction. Some of the listed are definitely the sasha (for me); some are zamani (for me). Perhaps photos will help (for whom photos could be found) and dates. There are Read the rest of this entry »
I am a social scientist. I look for the social in the science of what I do.
I am an evaluator as a social scientist. I want to determine the merit, worth, value of what I do. I want to know that the program I’m evaluating (or offering) made a difference. (After all, the root of evaluation is value.)
Keeping that in mind has resulted (over the years) in the comment, “no wonder she is the evaluator” when I ask an evaluative question. So I was surprised when I read a comment by a reader that implied that it didn’t matter. The reader said, “The ugly truth is, it does not matter if it makes a difference. Somewhere down the road someone will see your post and may be it will be useful for him.” (Now you must know that I’ve edited the comment, although the entire comment doesn’t support my argument: Evaluators need to know if the program made a difference.)
So the thought occurred to me, what if it didn’t make a difference? What if the program has no value? No worth? No merit? What if by evaluating the program you find that it won’t be useful for the participant? What does that say about you as an evaluator? You as a program designer? You as an end user? Is it okay for the post to be useful “somewhere down the road”? Is blogging truly “a one way channel to transfer any information you have over the web.” How long can a social-scientist-always-looking-at-the-social continue to work when the information goes out and rarely comes back? I do not know. I do know that blogging is hard work. After six and one-half years of writing this blog almost weekly, writer’s block is my constant companion. (although being on a computer, I do not have a pile of paper, just blank screens). So I’m turning to you, readers:
Does it make a difference whether I write this blog or not?
Am I abdicating my role as an evaluator when I write the blog?
I don’t know. Over the years I have gotten some interesting comments (other than the “nice job” “keep up the work” types of comments). I will pause (not in my writing; I’ll continue to do that) and think about this. After all, I am an evaluator wanting to know what difference this program makes.
The Highest Appreciation
– John F. Kennedy
Gratitude must be a habit. Each day needs to be began and ended with gratefulness. Then if you can live by that gratefulness, you will utter the words and be grateful. That is what evaluation is all about–holding to the higher ground. Not just doing something to get it done; doing something (in this case the evaluation) because it is right as you know it today, in this moment, under these circumstances.
Doing evaluation just for the sake of evaluating, because it would be nice to know, is not the answer. Yes, it may be nice to know; does it make a difference? Does the program (policy, performance, product, project, etc.) make a difference in the lives of the participants. As a social scientist, it is important for me to look at the “social” side of what I do; that means dealing with people, the participants, you know the social part. I want to determine what the participants are thinking, feeling, doing. That means, I must walk my talk. And be grateful.
There are lots of resources available that help the nascent evaluator do just that. My recommendation is to start with Jody Fitzpatrick’s volume . I would also check out the American Evaluation Association site. There is a lot of information available to non-members (becoming a member is worth the cost). Then depending on what you specifically want to know, let me know. I’ll suggest references to you.
Alan Rickman died this month. He was an actor of my generation; one that provided me with much entertainment. I am sad. Then I saw this quote on the power of stories. How stories explain. How stories can educate. How stories can help reduce bias. And I am reminded how stories are evaluative.
Dick Krueger did a professional development session (then called a “pre-session”) many years ago. It seems relevant now. Of course, I couldn’t find my notes (which were significant) so I did an online search, using “Dick Krueger and stories” as my search terms. I was successful! (See link.) When I went to the link, he had a whole section on story and story telling. What I remember most about that session is what he has listed under “How to Analyze the Story”. Specifically the four points he lists under problems with credibility:
The next time you tell a story think of it in evaluative terms. And check out what Dick Krueger has to say. Read the rest of this entry »