Sheila B Robinson

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


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When a Direct Question is NOT the Right Question

Who hasn’t answered the question, “What did you learn?” after attending a professional development session? As a PD facilitator and evaluator, I’ve certainly used feedback forms with this very question. After all, measuring participant learning is fundamental to PD evaluation.

In this post, I’ll share examples of actual data from PD evaluation in which we asked the direct question, “What did you learn?” I’ll then explain why this is a difficult question for PD participants to answer, resulting in unhelpful data. Next, I’ll offer a potential solution in the form of a different set of questions for PD evaluators to use in exploring the construct of participant learning. Finally, I’ll show where participant learning fits into the bigger picture of PD evaluation.  Continue reading

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Evolution of an Evaluator: Kylie Hutchinson

Evaluations, workshops, podcasts, tweets, mobile apps, concept maps and Christmas Carols. What do these have in common? One of British Columbia’s most interesting evaluators!

Back in September I had the opportunity to talk with Kylie Hutchinson of Community Solutions Planning and Evaluation. I was familiar with her popular Adventures in Evaluation Podcasts with James Coyle, and her famous evaluation Christmas Carols. Most likely, my introduction to her work was through one of her many aea365 posts. Kylie has been a frequent contributor on topics ranging from needs assessments to effective reporting techniques to presentation tips. A recent aea365 post introducing two new resources particularly caught my interest – a newly released Evaluation Glossary Mobile App, and a Working Typology of Evaluation Terms – and I wanted to ask Kylie how these came about.  Continue reading


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#Eval13 It’s Going to be a Banner Year!

Eval 13 banner

Call me a nerd, but I have the tune “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” stuck in my head.

Why?

I’m already in the DC area, having traveled here early to enjoy a few days with family before checking into the Washington Hilton for Evaluation 2013. The American Evaluation Association’s annual conference is truly a joy and a pleasure for me, both for the tremendous professional learning it offers and the abundance of networking opportunities with the evaluation community.  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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Ode to AEA365: A “Meta-post”

This is a blog post about blog posts…a meta-post, if you will (and even if you won’t). 🙂

I call myself AEA365’s biggest fan. It’s true. I’ve been a daily reader since its inception.* For the uninitiated, AEA365 Tip-A-Day by and for Evaluators is the official blog of the American Evaluation Association. It’s well-designed, reader-friendly and very searchable. I strongly encourage everyone to spend time exploring posts using keyword searches, or posts tagged for Topical Interest Groups (TIGs). Or, simply click on Archive and see every title and author of the more than 1000 posts.  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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Can a DataViz novice become a slide snob?

Yes. Yes, I can. Like so many other evaluators (and journalists, presenters, trainers, etc.) I’ve been sucked into the compelling world of Data Visualization and Reporting, Infographics, and the art of presentation. It’s evaluspheric reform at its best. In fact, I can see a new branch growing on Christina Christie and Marvin Alkin’s Evaluation Theory Tree. It’s the REPORTING branch, and it’s just starting to bud. It will certainly feature data visualization leaders and thinkers, and I imagine the first name to appear near the base will be Evergreen (hey, now THAT’S a name that works, given the tree metaphor!).

Stephanie Evergreen’s Potent Presentations Initiative (P2i) has helped launch a new wave of evaluation DataViz & Reporting enthusiasts, and catalyzed my newest learning journey which included giving my first Ignite Presentation at AEA2012. Back in 2010, John Nash mentioned two fabulous books in this aea365 post: Nancy Duarte’s Slide:ology, and Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen.  I can assure you, they’re both WELL worth the investment. Susan Kistler (among others) has posted and presented many, many tech tools and resources to fuel the cravings of any data or tech geek (a quick search on aea365 yields over a dozen of her posts on the topic).  Continue reading


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Why blog?

As I thought about why I started this blog (and had trouble gathering my thoughts on the topic), I decided to learn a little about why other evaluators blog. So what did I do? I did what I love best – collected data and did a little analysis! I went to my favorite evaluation blog AEA365, and searched the phrase “why I blog.” Here’s my data:

  • 25 bloggers / 25 posts
  • posts dated from December 2011 – April 2012
  • 1800+ words

I did some qualitative coding and created categories. My findings? Those who blog do so primarily to share information and ideas with others, to connect, network and build relationships, and to learn. Other themes include expressing their identities and blogging so that others get to know them, for reflection on learning, to contribute to the field and finally, (most surprising to me!), to help them organize and archive their work!

Just for fun, I fed the data into Tagxedo and voila:

So…I think I will blog for many of the same reasons! Were you surprised by any of these categories?