What the Future May Hold

What do I want to do when I grow up? This was a question that we used to ask ourselves when we were younger, as if the time to be a grown up was so far away. Well, I do believe that for all intents and purposes, I must be grown up considering that I finished college, completed a Master’s degree, work full-time, and got married. But, what is it that I want to do? I enjoy being a teacher and an educator, but will I do this for the rest of my life? As stated in the previous post, studying at Walden University has afforded me the opportunity to envision myself beyond my present position. So far, one of my professors has suggested that I consider going into higher education. My husband also suggested that I consider teaching at the college level as a means of advancing my professional competence. For this blog post, I will imagine that I am an institutional researcher at a higher education institution who is studying the growth of for-profit colleges and universities. I will approach this topic through the lens of accuracy standard A1 Justified Conclusions and Decisions, which calls for evaluators to devise an assessment process that result in conclusions that can justify changes and modifications to programs (Yarbrough, Shulha, Hopson, & Caruthers, 2011).

For-profit higher education institutions have been increasing in prominence throughout that last 20 years. Despite the negative criticism these institutions receive, for-profits are widely regarding for putting a college education in the hands of those outside of the mainstream. Tierney (2011) believes that for-profit colleges and universities have an important role to play in the burgeoning knowledge economy of the United States. Tierney (2011) notes that the traditional colleges and universities are not able to meet the increasing demand for a college education that will be necessary for the US to maintain its global, economic position. For-profit institution’s ability to reach a large segment of society (working adults, first generation college students) is invaluable to helping the US become a more educated and skilled society (Tierney, 2011). To verify the accuracy of Tierney’s claims, an institutional researcher would have to first gather enough reliable information related to the US’s global, economic position and how it relates to the need for greater access to higher education. Then, the research would have to interpret the findings and determine what position for-profit educational organizations can occupy in the new knowledge economy. There are perhaps many steps the institutional researcher could take to find out more about this topic, but two methods mentioned above can be a starting point for maintaining accuracy in research finding by arriving at justifiable conclusions and decisions.

References

Tierney, W. G., (2011). Too Big To Fail: The Role of For-Profit Colleges and Universities in American Higher Education. Change, 43(6), 27–32. http://doi.org/10.1080/00091383.2011.618079

Yarbrough, D., Shulha, L., Hopson, R., & Caruthers, F. (Eds.). (2011). The program evaluation standards: A guide for evaluators and evaluation users (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication, Inc.

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What the Future May Hold by Rashida Outlaw is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Standardizing a Profession

Organizational research, assessment, and evaluation is proving to be a very interesting field. Although I am only three weeks into my first specialization course, my eyes have been opened to the possibilities that this field of study may provide upon completion my PhD. One possibility that I may be able to implement immediately into my professional practice is the use program evaluation standards that encompass processes and procedures of conducting evaluation. The standards cover areas such as utility, feasibility, propriety, accuracy, and evaluation accountability. I have spent the last week engaging with these standards and trying to see the ways in which they can play a role in professional life. For the purpose of this blog post, I will describe briefly the meaning of three standards, provide a short literature review of scholarship that relates to the standards, and discuss how I might use these standards in my professional practice.

Upon review of the program evaluation standards, there were three that came to my attention: U2 Attention to Stakeholders, U4 Explicit Values, and F2 Practical Procedures (Yarbrough, Shulha, Hopson, & Carutheres, 2011). Attention to Stakeholders’ meaning is implied by its title: when preparing and conducting evaluations, fair attention must be given to the needs and expectations of all stakeholders. This ensures that the evaluation will include multiple perspectives. Because stakeholders come from diverse backgrounds, naturally, they bring many points of view to the table. Likewise, the evaluator must be aware of his own self-knowledge throughout the process. Program standard U4 Explicit Values addresses this dynamic and encourages evaluators to be aware of individual and group values that shape evaluations. The feasibility of an evaluation is contingent upon Practical Procedures being in place from start to finish. Practical Procedures, which generally take the form of very specific actions, help to make clear the purpose of the program that is being evaluated.

Stakeholders, values, and procedures, taken separately, figure well in the life of an educator. Educators, especially teachers, make up a large percentage of stakeholders in educational institutions. The values that individual educators posses shape their view of the world and informs their approach to teaching and learning. Meanwhile, educators need practical procedures as they engage with their day-to-day task of educating students. How have scholars engaged with these program standards? What connections exist between program evaluation standards and modern educational research? After conducting a brief exploration on educational topics of interest to me, I found five scholarly sources that appear to make a relationship between organizational research, assessment, and evaluation and current issues in PK-12 and higher education.

The research that I found share some similarities in that educational institutions, like organizations in the business world, are entities that are in constant periods of change. The questions that these sectors wonder surround who will lead the change, how will the change take place, and what do we do once change has occurred. Marshall (2012) suggests that higher education middle leaders, personnel with job titles from head of department to associate dean, are at the forefront of institutional change. In fact, these middle leaders, in practicing change leadership, are in positions to bring about organizational change because of their role of hovering between two worlds, senior management and the colleagues who report to them. This unique set of relationships allow middle change leaders to connect with colleagues who share similar values (Marshall, 2012).

Weymes (2005) makes a parallel claim when he suggests that the key to organizational success rests with developing the creative potential of the people of the organization. Making connections between Chinese Confucianism and western philosophy, Weymes (2005) asserts the organizations that seek transformational change needs to understand both internal and external stakeholders. Establishing sustainable relationships, built on trust, with the people of the organization provides a way for these stakeholders to develop an enduring connection with the purpose of the organization. Palermo (2013) suggests that organizational change helps institutions to guarantee proper procedures and processes. Palermo offers a means by which organizations can achieve change, through the five stages of the transtheoretical change model, which include precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance (Palermo, 2013).

Slater (2008) recommends that school leaders build leadership capacity among their staff by initiating collaborative communication in their respective schools. By working collaboratively, stakeholders can rise into the ranks of leadership and have a greater chance of effecting change in their organization (Slater, 2008). Verberg, Tigelaar, and Verloop (2013) present negotiated assessment as a means for educators to develop self-knowledge. This type of procedure gain help develop a teacher’s professional practice.

I think the lesson here is there are many factors to consider when one decides to become an evaluator. Having explicit values, maintaining the intention to give due attention to stakeholders, and developing practical procedures for instituting change should make up a solid foundation for leading change in organizations.

 

References

Marshall, S.G. (2012). Educational middle change leadership in New Zealand: the meat in the sandwich. International Journal of Educational Management, 26(6), 502–528. http://doi.org/10.1108/09513541211251361

Palermo, J. (2013). Linking student evaluations to institutional goals: a change story. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 38(2), 211–223. http://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2011.618880

Slater, L. (2008). Pathways to Building Leadership Capacity. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 36(1), 55–69. http://doi.org/10.1177/1741143207084060

Verberg, C. P. M., Tigelaar, D. E. H., & Verloop, N. (2013). Teacher learning through participation in a negotiated assessment procedure. Teachers and Teaching, 19(2), 172–187. http://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2013.741842

Weymes, E. (2005). Organizations which make a difference: a philosophical argument for the “people focused organization.” Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society, 5(2), 142–158. http://doi.org/10.1108/14720700510562721

Yarbrough, D., Shulha, L., Hopson, R., & Carutheres, F. (Eds.). (2011). The program evaluation standards: A guide for evaluators and evaluation users (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication, Inc.

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Standardizing a Profession by Rashida Outlaw is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The Evaluator’s Inheritance

           As part of my ongoing personal and professional development, I am going to include a new focus of my blog that will address a variety of issues that emerge in the course of my PhD in Education program at Walden University. My specialization, Organizational Research, Assessment, and Evaluation (ORAE), prepares scholar-practitioners to become professional evaluators who are cognizant of their social and ethical responsibilities when conducting evaluations.
         But, what are these social and ethical responsibilities that evaluators inherit? Yarbrough, Shulha, Hopson, and Caruthers (2011) note that evaluators must be aware peoples’ fundamental human rights and include the interests of not only the powerful, but of the powerless members of society.  The American Evaluation Association (2004) outlined five guiding principles that can inform the professional practice of evaluators: systemic inquiry, competence, integrity and honesty, respect for people, and responsibilities for general and public welfare. It seems that the human being and his welfare are at the center of evaluations. The whole purpose behind conducting evaluations is to improve society by improving the human condition. If that is the case, then all efforts must be employed to ensure fair and ethical evaluation.
         One of my many research interests is for-profit education. I took up this topic because I am immersed in the for-profit education world. I work in a for-profit K-12 school and I am pursuing a PhD at a proprietary university. Can students receive a good education in institutions where the profit motive informs internal and external operations? Or, are for-profits able to present a new, effective model for education that other types of institutions can follow? I hope to explore these issues throughout my program. For now, I am wondering what social and ethical responsibilities one will face in trying to find out answers to the aforementioned questions. When studying for-profit educational enterprises, one will quickly notice that many of the schools, colleges, and universities are run like businesses designed to increase the profits of the stakeholders. This structure puts the owners in a very powerful position and the employees in a subordinate position. An evaluator in this situation would need the cooperation and participation of all stakeholders. She would also have to ensure that all voices are heard and that stakeholders can freely participate in the evaluation.
         I believe that having pre-defined social and ethical responsibilities will help guide the evaluator and the evaluation. I would add that during the course of the evaluation, new circumstances may arise which could bring to light new responsibilities that were not previously known. Therefore, the evaluator must exercise constant flexibility.

References
American Evaluation Association. (2004). Guiding principles for evaluators. Retrieved from http://www.eval.org/p/cm/ld/fid=51.
Yarbrough, D. B., Shulha, L. M., Hopson, R. K., & Caruthers, F. A. (2011).The program evaluation standards: A guide for evaluators and evaluation users(3rd ed.).Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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The Evaluator’s Inheritance by Rashida Outlaw is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.