Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Evaluation 101

I just emailed one of our subscribers about an evaluation of learning spaces that they're beginning to plan. We've got materials for the kinds of inquiry (focus groups, surveys, trips) that can guide planning. I also suggested he look at "The Flashlight Approach." I concluded with an old thought, which I think is framed more clearly than I usually say it!

"I always start designing a study by trying to identify the most important choices that people need to make, choices about which they are still reasonably uncertain. And I mean “reasonably” in both senses of the term:
  1. In the minds of these folks, the uncertainty about what to do is significant, and
  2. the uncertainty can be reduced by looking into evidence. Before the study, they may be leaning one way or another, but they could still be convinced to change their minds and make a different choice if they were to see evidence that my study would be capable of producing.