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.



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.

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

Slater, L. (2008). Pathways to Building Leadership Capacity. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 36(1), 55–69.

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.

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.

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.


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