Dawn and I attended the Evaluation Workshop organised by JISC at Maple House, Birmingham yesterday, 14th January 2009. Overall the event was very useful in that it helped us to focus on what evaluation means for the PC3 project. I was happy that the Support & Synthesis (S&S) team were comfortable with the idea that evaluating a project lasting four years means that an evaluation plan is likely to change over that time particularly given the experience of the chocolate cookie activity!
Something else that caught my attention during the day was the recognition that different stakeholders had different expectations from our project and that we need to ensure that our evaluation plans allow us to include activities that allow us to say something towards these different expectations.
Helen Beetham talked about the ‘power words’ in the original bids and a need to be clear what these mean in the context of our respective bids. Early views on this for us certainly highlights words such as ‘coaching’ , ‘flexible’ approaches and ‘personalised curriculum’; feedback from project events run so far clearly show that staff have very different views about what these mean for them.
The discussions around ‘baselining’ a project were helpful for us as we are modelling current processes and workflows in order to demonstrate what they currently enable and where changes are needed in order to facilitate the radical changes to curriculum design inherent in our project. There was also a suggestion that one evaluation activity could be to contrast a typical output (subject specific award design over a limited time period with limited student choice) for the current processes against a typical output for the modified processes (generalised award design over a variable period with a wide range of choice).
There was also a timely reminder that each project is a part of the S&S programme and that the programme itself would be evaluated so it would be helpful to identify aspects of our evaluation plans that offered insight on the programme aims and objectives.
Sarah Knight closed the event with a few key dates for the project and evaluation plans so perhaps I had better stop chattering here and make sure that we meet the first deadline for the draft project plans on February 2nd.