Category Archives: humour

The “evaluate that” campaign

I am totally sympathetic with teachers’ reactions to the simplistic, pedestrian ways of evaluating the quality of their work, the quality of student work, and the quality of schools. That efforts are made to reduce complex evaluands to simple ones is a serious problem. The “EVALUATE THAT” campaign identifies important aspects of teaching and education that aren’t measured and therefore not evaluated… things like compassion, empathy, cooperation… the emotional, interactional content of the work of teaching. [Click here, for the heartfelt remarks of one teacher.] The campaign (started by BadAss Teachers who created the meme shown in this post) also suggests these things can’t be measured and can’t be evaluated. Stories are being aggregated with the use of the Twitter hastag #evaluatethat.

Whether you are a teacher, student, parent, administrator… tell us, in a brief sentence or two, YOUR moments of teaching or learning (yours or someone else’s) that was never formally measured but made an impression on you. These ‘bites’ of reality do not have to be all gloriously positive, the only criteria – true, real and not measured (no hypotheticals please).

We are collecting these via Twitter by using #evaluatethat hashtag in each relevant tweet. This will ensure all of these are kept in one place and can be easily seen by all.

The hashtag has taken on a bit of a f*&k you tone… you can sort of imagine the tweeter grabbing their crouch while they shout “EVALUATE THAT.” Even so, the collection of stories is an important reminder of the complexity of teaching and schooling… a complexity that needs to be incorporated into judgements of the quality of teaching, learning and schooling. While it may be very difficult to measure such things as compassion and empathy that’s not a reason to step away, but all the more reason to find sound ways of incorporating those behaviors and actions into evaluations.

some useful references on writing & publishing

Allison, A., & Forngia, T. (1992). The grad student’s guide to getting published. New York: Prentice Hall.

American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Associations (6th ed.). Washington, DC.

Becker, H. S., & Richards, P. (2007). Writing for social scientists: How to start and finish your thesis, book, or article (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bridgewater, C. A., Bornstein, P. H., & Walkenbach, J. (1981). Ethical issues in the assignment of publication credit. American Psychologist, 36, 524-525.

Clifford, J. & Marcus, G. E. (1986). Writing culture. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Frost, P. J., & Taylor, M. S. (Eds.). (1996). Rhythms of academic life: Personal accounts of careers in academia. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Fuchs, L. S., & Fuchs, D. (1993). Writing research reports for publication: Recommendations for new authors. Remedial and Special Education, 14(3), 39-46.

Geertz, C. (1989). Works and lives: The anthropologist as writer. Boston: Polity Press.

Klingner, J. K., Scanlon, D. & Pressley, M. (2005). How to publish in scholarly journals. Educational Researcher, 34(8), 14-21.

Matkin, R. E., & Riggar, T. F. (1991). Persist and publish: Helpful hints for academic writing and publishing. Niwot, CO: University of Colorado Press.

University of Chicago Press. (2003). The Chicago manual of style (15th ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Strunk, W. J., & White, E. B. (2005). The elements of style (3rd. Ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. [NOTE: Treat yourself and get the edition illustrated by Maira Kalman.]

Truss, L. (2004). Eats, shoots and leaves: Why, commas really do make a difference! New York: Gotham.

Wolcott, H. F. (2008). Writing up qualitative research (3rd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Evaluation is all around

Beginning a new semester I strive to find ways to illustrate that evaluative thinking is all around, and indeed may by the most ubiquitous form of thinking that we as humans do. In the words of The Troggs…

I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
[Evaluation] is all around me
And so the feeling grows

There are plenty of examples like Consumer Reports or Rotten Tomatoes or The Wine Spectator. But there is nothing like the many TV contest shows for entertaining examples of evaluation. This term my class watched the show Four Weddings and analyzed how the evaluation was done. It is quite a rich example that illustrates the logic of evaluation including such things as:

    > the complexity of establishing criteria, including the need for far more specificity than one might think
    > relative weighting of criteria
    > the slippery and amorphous nature of standards
    > how grading and ranking differ, but can be combined in a single evaluation
    > what the attributes of a good evaluator might be

It’s written on the wind
It’s everywhere I go, oh yes, it is
So if you really [evaluate]
Come on and let it show