Sheila B Robinson

Reflections of an everyday educator/program evaluator/professional developer…LEARNER


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#Eval13: #omgmqp, ESM, DataViz, Program Design, Blogging, and the Great Big Nerd Project

Here it is, less than a week after returning home from Evaluation 2013, and I’ve already used what I’ve learned in all three workplace settings. I’ve also enjoyed reading other bloggers’ conference highlights (see below for links) as they in a sense, let me peer vicariously into sessions I didn’t attend, or they enhance my own experience by offering a different perspective on sessions I did attend.

Here’s a recap (in a “longform” post, which, I’m told, is an effective blogging strategy) of what resonated most with me: Continue reading

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Paradox Redux: A Pleasant Surprise

A few weeks ago, I wrote Exploring the Public Education Paradox – Evaluation and Public Education (response to Jamie Clearfield). Soon after bemoaning the apparent lack of understanding of evaluation and its role in public education, I was delighted to find a chapter devoted to program evaluation in an education book I’m reading with my colleagues.  I was even more excited to discover a section on theory of change and logic model. Seldom (if ever) have I seen these concepts addressed outside of an evaluation text.

The book is Coaching Matters*, a text on PK-12 teacher leadership, and is described by its authors as addressing “…whether coaching matters. In other words, does it work?” My point here is not to offer a book review, but rather to revel in the fact that a book written for educational pracitioners is framed by evaluative thinking!  Continue reading


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Exploring the Public Education Paradox – Evaluation and Public Education (response to Jamie Clearfield)

Just last week, one of my favorite evaluation blogs, Emery Evaluation, featured a guest post that got me thinking. Exploring the Non-Profit Paradox – Evaluation and Non-Profits [Guest post by Jamie Clearfield] reminded me that I’ve long thought there exists a dearth of program evaluation in public schools. As Jamie indicates for the world of non-profits and community-based organizations (CBOs), I too believe there is a lack of understanding of evaluation and its role in public education. How do I know this?  Continue reading


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A Roundup of Survey Design Resources (cross-post with actionable data)

Sheila here, writing with the magnificent Kim Firth Leonard of the actionable data blog.

Since agreeing that we would co-author a series of blog posts on surveys with a focus on composing good questions, we have discovered countless other blog posts, websites, journal articles, and books on survey research from a variety of fields and perspectives, many of which feature discussions of and advice on question construction. Of course, we have a few personal favorites and well dog-eared texts:  Continue reading


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“They say that numbers never lie…”

This portentous first line inside the dust jacket of Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception by Charles Seife sets the hook for the reader. The author  then reels us in with a cynical assessment of how numbers are used to do exactly that. In fact, it might be said that Seife’s position is, as a variation of an old aphorism goes, “figures lie and liars figure.”

I don’t intend to provide a book review here; you can easily find them elsewhere. Instead, I will share just a brief excerpt of what I found particularly interesting and well-written. As you can see, this book passed the “tape flag test” for me, meaning there are plenty parts I intend to reread or share.  Continue reading


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Evaluators are humans, TWO!

As part of his launch team, I introduced Daniel H. Pink’s new book, To Sell is Human, in a recent post (see Evaluators are humans, too!). Pink’s premise is that regardless of our chosen fields, we’re all in sales – even those of us in what he calls “non-sales selling.” As a matter of course, we must all move others.

Eagles Mere, PA

©2006 Photo by SheilaBRobinson

Especially engaging for an evaluator is Pink’s chapter on Clarity, one of the “new ABCs of selling” – Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity. Pink sees clarity as “the capacity to help others see their situations in fresh and more revealing ways and to identify problems they didn’t realize they had.” What resonates with me is the notion of the value of problem-finding over problem-solving. The Information Age has given us access to all manner of solutions to our problems, but not necessarily to their identification. “The services of others are far more valuable,” claims Pink “when I’m mistaken, confused, or completely clueless about my true problem.”  Continue reading


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A Collector’s Paradise (if you enjoy evaluation, that is…)

Just as I love collecting data (see my post Like an Evaluator in a Data Store), I love gathering evaluation resources. If only googling counted as exercise {sigh}. So, in the holiday spirit of giving, I offer you a brief glimpse of a few favorites from my prized collection:  Continue reading


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Evaluators are humans too!

Pink is the new black! I declare that with no reference whatsoever to disease, retailers, or fashion.

Today, I’m plugging a new and exciting read, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others, by Daniel H. Pink, author of two of my favorite books, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, and A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future. I’m honored to be part of Dan’s launch team for this new book, due out December 31. I receive no compensation for this other than an advance copy of the book so that I can help spread the word, along with the same free goodie package offered to anyone who pre-orders the book prior to December 30. More on this in a moment…  Continue reading