Approaches

Approaches



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Session Title: Systems Thinking Approaches for Program Evaluation
Multipaper Session 581 to be held in Panzacola Section F4 on Friday, Nov 13, 3:35 PM to 4:20 PM
Sponsored by the Systems in Evaluation TIG
Chair(s):
Margaret Hargreaves,  Mathematica Policy Research Inc, mhargreaves@mathematica-mpr.com
A Case Study of the iPlant Collaborative Evaluation Plan Development: An Integrative Approach Using Outcomes-based and Systems Methods And Concepts
Presenter(s):
Barbara Heath, East Main Educational Consulting LLC, bheath@emeconline.com
Jennifer Young, East Main Educational Consulting LLC, jyoung@emeconline.com
Xiaodong Zhang, Westat, xiaodongzhang@westat.com
Margaret Hargreaves, Mathematica Policy Research Inc, mhargreaves@mathematica-mpr.com
Abstract: Funded by the National Science Foundation, the iPlant Collaborative (iPlant) is a distributed, cyber infrastructure-centered, international community of plant and computing researchers. The goal of iPlant is to bring together the community to (1) identify new conceptual advances through computational thinking and (2) address an evolving array of the most compelling Grand Challenges in the plant sciences and associated, cutting-edge research challenges in the computing sciences. Our presentation intends to provide a case study of how we changed the evaluation approach from a traditional outcome-based model to an integrative approach that includes both outcome-based and systems-based methods and concepts. Several methodologies are being deployed for data collection and analysis, i.e. outcome-based methods, social network analysis, case studies, and consumer-oriented surveys.
Perspectives, Boundaries, and Entanglement: Using Systems Thinking in the Evaluation of Programs Addressing the College Readiness Gap
Presenter(s):
Mary McEathron, University of Minnesota, mceat001@umn.edu
Abstract: Context, the theme of this year's conference, is a well-acknowledged component of every evaluation. Typically, an evaluation includes a thorough description of a program and its sphere of influence. But what do we do with the contextual factors that lie outside the program, especially when the 'out there' has more influence on the issue than the program itself? This paper presents a case study of the use of soft systems methodology (SSM) to address this quandary. Based on an evaluation of a community college program aimed at improving retention for at-risk students, the study explores the program's attempt to bridge the 'readiness gap.' The presentation will focus on the use of SSM not only to clarify analysis of the situation but also to facilitate a dynamic discussion with stakeholders, which created a deeper understanding of the situation and the development of clearer recommendations for change and action.
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