Evaluation is an Everyday Activity

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Making a difference

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 4:40pm

We close every rehearsal and concert with the song, “Be the change”. Using the words from Gandhi, I try to remember to make a difference; to be the change I want to see in the world.

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?”

The same mantra applies to this blog. In the almost seven years since I started blogging, my readership has grown and not just among evaluators (though certainly among them).  I regularly get posts that tell me that if I provide something that is interesting, enlightening, creative, informative, (you get the idea…) that I am making a difference because I blog. Yet, I look at the state of the world and wonder.

Gandhi’s  seven dangers to human virtue (called by Wikipedia the Seven Social Sins) come to mind. (The title listed below is not mine.)

The political systems in the world (at least in the US) seem to be broken (see number 7); large scale destruction happens both humon made (e.g., the shooting in Orlando, the destruction in the middle east) (see number 3 and 6) and nature driven (e.g., hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, fire) (see number 3, 4, 5); and then there is all the rest (e.g., climate change, fracking, species extinction, poverty, hunger) (see number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) .  I have to wonder. Can I make a difference with one little blog?

Yet, I keep on (and not because I was told to blog; I find I enjoy blogging). I blog. I tie my blog to evaluation. It is a form of speaking truth to power. It is a form of Satyagraha (from the Sanskrit “words satya [meaning “truth”] and Agraha [“insistence”, or “holding firmly to”].  Everyday, people evaluate, even if those evaluations cannot be considered rigorous by academics. The difference is that everyday people do not (cannot?) articulate the criteria that they use. Everyone has criteria. Not everyone articulates those criteria. That is the difference between evaluating everyday and evaluating as a professional. Professional evaluators have guiding principles, criteria. By teaching people to be critical (by example, by practice), I think I can make a difference. So I continue.

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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Case study–a qualitative inquiry.

Wed, 06/15/2016 - 4:07pm

It has been almost a month since I last blogged. When I last blogged, I talked about evaluation history. That blog was a bunny path from what I had been talking about: methodology. I was talking about the implementation, monitoring, and delivery of interventions which are to be evaluated. Another methodology I want to talk about is case study. I did go through the archives to locate the blogs relating to case study. They are below.





I’ve also identified the references (on my shelf) that refer to case study. I’m sure there are others; there always are. They are the following.

Robert O. Brinkerhoff has developed a method, the Success Case Method , as an evaluation approach that “easier, faster, and cheaper than competing approaches, and produces compelling evidence decision-makers can actually use.”  As an evaluation approach, this method is quick and inexpensive and most of all, produces useful results.

Robert E. Stake has taken case study beyond one to many with his recent book, Multiple Case Study Analysis.  It looks at cross-case analysis and can be used when broadly occurring phenomena need to be explored, such as leadership or management. He also wrote the book, “The Art of Case Study” (among others).

Robert K. Yin wrote two seminal books on case studies, one in 1993 (now in a 3rd edition , 1993 was the 1st edition) and the other in 1989 (now in the 5th edition , 1989 was the 1st edition).

Another  book I have on my shelf is “Case Study Method” edited by Roger Gomm, Martyn Hammersley, and Peter Foster. Nigel Fielding at the University of Surrey says, “This book collects together key sources on a “hardy perennial” topic, guaranteeing its relevance for academics, researchers, and students on higher level methods programmes. Well-known authorities in the field are represented by carefully constructed contributions.” Both Stake and Yin are cited in this work. It is a relatively new book (2000) as opposed to updated versions of classics.

Start with Yin; move on to Stake; include Gomm, Hammersley, and Foster as well as Brinkerhoff in your review. Case study methodology yields qualitative data; it is a form of qualitative research. It will yield richness and depth. Although valuable, it is a lot of work.

my .


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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs