Good ideas. Maybe.

Did I get good ideas? Maybe.

I recently returned (Saturday,November 11, 2017, late) from the 2017 annual American Evaluation Association conference. This year the meeting was held in Washington, D. C.  (Thank you Lance Wyman, for this photo.) I realize that this is not the iconic view of D.C. that one imagines (like this: .) It was fall and it was mostly clear. I did get to the zoo as part of the conference.

As you know, I determine if a conference is good by seeing three long time friends, meeting three new people I want to see again, and getting three new ideas . This year was bitter sweet. Yes, I did see three long time friends (however, there were only 10). Used to be that I could not go across the lobby without seeing someone I knew well and wanted to see again. This year, many friends (both professional and personal) were not there–they had retired; they were frail and not traveling; they had died and I thought of my own mortality and realized that I had less time to take breaths, even those that take my breath away. I did not meet (although I did interact with young people) three new people I wanted to see again. I think I got only two good ideas–maybe three; hard to say.

Expanding horizons?

I had the good fortune to attend a professional development workshop on Social Network Analysis. For those of you who do not know (myself included) social network analysis (SNA) is “a method of analyzing and visualizing social structures, represented in a form of graphs”. It can result in a graph that looks like this:

(with the blue dots being the measures of centrality) or this (with the red person being key). Perhaps I can use this technique in my work.

Economic Evaluation.

I also had the good fortune to hear Henry (Hank) Levin talk on economic evaluation in education.

This is the cover of his new edition published this year.

This may be the last time I see him live and in color as he is older than I am (although he is not frail as many 80+ are). I grew up with him and his first edition called Cost-Effectiveness Analysis.

and had the good fortune of hearing him talk about economic evaluation in education (although he didn’t call it that at the time). He (with Patrick McEwan) had a second edition published in 2001.

Levin spoke about the neglect of cost effectiveness. (Most resources will talk about cost-benefit analysis [or benefit-cost analysis]). While CE compares costs for similar effectiveness, BC puts a monetary cost to a monetary benefit, with outcomes measured in monetary values. I think there is more to evaluation than monetary value.

Principles-focused evaluation.

I also heard Michael Quinn Patton talk about principles-focused evaluation.

Michael served as the chair and discussant on a panel sponsored by the Systems TIG.  What a thought provoking session, not unlike the book. That it included one of the most “creative contemporary thinker about how best to advance evaluation practice” provided a bonus.  Just listening to the interplay was valuable.

Now having said all this, the question remains: Can I use these ideas in my work?

I’ll think about it. A lot.

My .

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