Friday, January 13, 2012

Surface Expectations For Courses

Reading Martineau & Hannum's book "Evaluating the Impact of Leadership Development: A Professional Guide (2004) I was starting to think I was a bit thick, or from the wrong planet. The preface, introduction and chapter 1 did not make much sense. I had to check the author's website to work out what the book was about: how to assess management training courses.

I suggest skipping the Preface, Introduction and Chapter 1, as they use of the sort of jargon which Lucy Kellaway criticizes in her BBC broadcasts. At Chapter 2 "Focusing the Evaluation", it appears a different author took over and the book gets much more readable.

The chapter starts out with useful points: ideally the evaluation of a course should be planned while the course is being designed and it has to fit into the organization schedule. So it is not a good idea to be taking teachers away from their desks to ask them questions, when they are busy marking. Similarly it is not a good idea to ask students about satisfaction with a course when they are cramming for the examination.

Martineau & Hannum suggest these steps:
  1. Identify stakeholders
  2. Define purpose
  3. Determine resources
  4. Establish the desired impact and timing (they had impact and timing as two steps but I see them as the one)
  5. Surface expectations
  6. Determine evaluation questions

The chapter then goes into details, providing worksheet and examples. The one part I had difficulty with was "Surface expectations". After reading the detailed description I was still not sure what these are. They appear to be assumed impacts: that is results of the course which are not formally expressed because they are considered so obvious they need not be stated. A web search for the term "surface expectations" suggests it refers to how smooth a concrete slab should be, but I don't think that is the meaning intended here. ;-)

The chapter then goes on to sampling and data-collection methods and planning for use of results. At this point the chapter started to get interesting, but then ended. Hopefully there is more of the same in chapter 3.

No comments: