Sheila B Robinson

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


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Put me in, coach…I’m ready to survey! (cross post with actionable data)

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

This post highlights some favorite recommendations from our collective experiences in crafting survey questions. It is also a continuation of our earlier co-authored posts (here and here).  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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Time to turn some pages…into evaluation know-how!

What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.

If only Thomas Carlyle (Scottish philosopher, writer, historian and teacher) had lived in the age of the Internet. He most certainly would have added websites, blogs, Pinterest boards, SlideShare decks, and much, much, more.

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to collect. I like to amass. I even like to organize (although a peek at my closets and basement might suggest otherwise). Collecting information and ideas is as hot as ever now, what with all the readily available social media, i.e. Pinterest, and the like. While I haven’t yet expanded to that site*, I have been doing a bit of collecting right here on the blog space.  Continue reading


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Thinking About Evaluative Thinking…in my own backyard!

Confucius said: Learning without thought is labor lost. Thought without learning is perilous. I have been thinking about evaluative thinking. And exploring. And reading. And of course, learning. And I’m finding the same old story: as with most other evaluation-related terminology, there’s no one accepted definition of evaluative thinking. But, I did find two amazing resources:  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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Chart Changin’ Cha-Cha

As mentioned here, I’m learning about the art of data visualization and presentation, and am currently enrolled and engrossed in Alberto Cairo’s Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization MOOC*  and loving it.

Professor Cairo has shared a wealth of information graphics for my 4,999 classmates and me to study and critique as he enlightens us on principles of graphic design. New York Times Infographics  is one great site to explore the variety of graphics designers use to convey information.  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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Harnessing the power of the ULTIMATE evaluation resource

I’m adding a few letters after my name…GPS. No, not THAT GPS – Google Power Searcher! Did you know Google has not one, but two online Power Searching courses? I missed the first one, but found the materials here and am making my way through the course on my own. Much like other online courses, Power Searching includes a series of video lectures and exercises that offer the opportunity to apply and test your skills.  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