I recently attended the National Afterschool Association’s Convention in Orlando. My notes from the convention can be downloaded here: http://cl.ly/050v3s0G333x
I learned a great deal from each of the presentations that I attended, but here were the biggest takeaways from an evaluative perspective:
- How we frame and phrase our findings is important. There’s been fantastic work done by the FrameWorks Institute (frameworksinstitute.org) on how to more proactively frame messages about the need for STEM programming and outcomes of STEM programming – so as not to trigger counter-productive assumptions or biases.
- What we look at matters. One of the presenters stated that children who come from homes where they are getting ample love come to school ready to learn, while children who’s families are constantly under stress or facing challenges come to school needing to be loved. The comment implies that the later group can’t effectively learn until their former need is met. As evaluators, if we are only looking at learning outcomes, we may be missing the very important things that are happening to help lay the ground work for subsequent learning.
- Stakeholders are more likely to embrace evaluation if they see the value in the data being collected. Being asked to take time to collect survey data can be frustrating if program staff don’t see the immediate value in how that data can be used to benefit or improve their program.