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What makes a blog engaging?
We know that blogs and blogging outreach to community members–those who have subscribed as well as those using various search engines to find a topical response.
Do the various forms of accessing the blog make a difference in whether the reader is engaged?
This is not a casual question, dear Readers. I will be presenting a poster at the Engagement Scholarship Consortium in October (which will be held in Edmonton, Alberta). I want to know. I want to be able to present to the various audiences at that meeting what my readers think. I realize that reading evaluation blogs may yield a response that is different from reading blogs related to food, or sustainability, or food sustainability, or climate chaos, or parenthood, or some other topic. There are enough evaluation blogs populating the internet that I think that there is some interest. I think my readers are engaged.
Only you, dear Readers, can tell me.
So are you engaged in reading my blog (even if you don’t comment).
Does the definition of engagement need to be broadened to be more inclusive? (see here for a definition used by the Consortium)
What exactly does collaboration mean in the context of blogs?
Chris Lysy in this week’s post talks about the why, what, who, how, and what next of blogging AND the post is peppered with cartoons. Using Chris as an example, I found his post engaging–I’m not sure it is collaborative. That is where I redefine collaborative…without his post, I doubt I would be writing this part of this blog…
So Readers–what DO you think? What makes a blog engaging?
A colleague asked, “How do you design an evaluation that can identify unintended consequences?” This was based on a statement about methodologies that “only measure the extent to which intended results have been achieved and are not able to capture unintended outcomes (see AEA365). (The cartoon is attributed to Rob Cottingham.)
Really good question. Unintended consequences are just that–outcomes which are not what you think will happen with the program you are implementing. This is where program theory comes into play. When you model the program, you think of what you want to happen. What you want to happen is usually supported by the literature, not your gut (intuition may be useful for unintended, however). A logic model lists as outcome the “intended” outcomes (consequences). So you run your program and you get something else, not necessarily bad, just not what you expected; the outcome is unintended.
Program theory can advise you that other outcomes could happen. How do you design your evaluation so that you can capture those. Mazmanian in his 1998 study on intention to change had an unintended outcome; one that has applications to any adult learning experience (1). So what method do you use to get at these? A general question, open ended? Perhaps. Many (most?) people won’t respond to open ended questions–takes too much time. OK. I can live with that. So what do you do instead? What does the literature say could happen? Even if you didn’t design the program for that outcome. Ask that question. Along with the questions about what you expect to happen.
How would you represent this in your logic model–by the ubiquitous “other”? Perhaps. Certainly easy that way. Again, look at program theory. What does it say? Then use what is said there. Or use “other”–then you are getting back to the open ended questions and run the risk of not getting a response. If you only model “other”–do you really know what that “other” is?
I know that I won’t be able to get to world peace, so I look for what I can evaluate and since I doubt I’ll have enough money to actually go and observe behaviors (certainly the ideal), I have to ask a question. In your question asking, you want a response right? Then ask the specific question. Ask it in a way that elicits program influence–how confident the respondent is that X happened? How confident the respondent is that they can do X? How confident is the respondent that this outcome could have happened? You could ask if X happened (yes/no) and then ask the confidence questions (confidence questions are also known as self-efficacy). Bandura will be proud. See OR OR (for discussions of self-efficacy and social learning).
1. Mazmanian, P. E., Daffron, S. R., Johnson, R. E., Davis, D. A., Kantrowitz, M. P. (1998). Information about barriers to planned change: A randomized controlled trial involving continuing medical education lectures and commitment to change. Academic Medicine 73(8), 882-886.
We participate in the Oregon State U Food Science Camp for middle school students.
Part of the STEM [science technology engineering math] Academies@OSU Camps.
We teach about bread fermentations, yeast converting sugars to CO2 and ethanol, lactobacillus converting sugar to lactic and acetic acids, how the gluten in wheat can form films to trap the gas and allow the dough to rise. On the way we teach about flour composition, bread ingredients and their chemical functionalities, hydration, the relationships between enzymes and substrates [amylases on starch to produce maltose for the fermentation organisms]; gluten development, the gas laws and CO2′s declining solubility in the aqueous phase during baking which expands the gas bubbles and leads to the oven spring at the beginning of baking; and the effect of pH on Maillard browning using soft pretzels that they get to shape themselves..
All this is illustrated by hands on [in] activities: they experience the hydration and the increasing cohesiveness of the dough as they mix it with their own hands, they see their own hand mixed dough taken through to well-risen bread. They get to experience dough/gluten development in a different context with the pasta extruder, and more and more.
A great way to introduce kids to the relevance of science to their day to day lives: in our case chemistry physics biochemistry and biology in cereal food processing.
We were also fortunate to have Erik Fooladi from Volda University College in Norway to observe the fun: http://www.fooducation.org/
If you have not read his blog and you like what we do here: you should!
pH, colloidal calcium phosphate, aging, proteolysis, emulsification or its loss and their interactions lead to optimum melting qualities for cheeses. A module in this year’s food systems chemistry class.
This module was informed by this beautiful article “The beauty of milk at high magnification“ by Miloslav Kalab, which is available on the Royal Microscopical Society website.
Of course accompanied by real sourdough wholegrain bread baked in out own research bakery.
“The Science of a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.”
by: Jennifer Kimmel
in: The Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking
Edited by Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik van der Linden
I’m back from maternity leave and getting resettled into some new responsibilities. We had a staff member leave us, so Glenda and I are having to pick up the work load until we find someone new, or our responsibilites change. Being a new mom is lots of work too, so I’ve gone part time (24 hours aweek) but am still trying to get everything done… that being said, we’ve decided to put our nutrition education volunteering on hold, until I have a managable workload.
We look forward to being able to start things back up in the summer or fall of 2011. Thanks so much and since a few of you have been asking, here’s a photo of our boy. He is 5 months old today!