Assessing Effectiveness: Ways of Seeing Impact

By Maggie Gregson and Lawrence Nixon.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Seeing the impact of an educational policy or intervention is notoriously difficult. Imperatives to account for the wise use of public money, understandably lead politicians and policy makers to prioritise the identification and measurement of ‘hard’ outcomes in the form of benchmarks, targets and league tables. Contributions from the disciplines of education and sociology are used in this paper to show how these ways of seeing impact can result in shallow public demonstrations of compliance with centrally prescribed standards and curricula. The same contributions reveal how such approaches can have other perverse consequences in that they can serve to divert the attention of teachers away from educational values and pedagogical concerns, towards ‘teaching to the test’ or the pursuit other ‘fabrications’ of achievement. From the discipline of philosophy we turn to the work of John Dewey to consider ‘softer’ approaches to educational evaluation that might otherwise be undervalued or overlooked. These different ways of seeing impact, we argue, offer possibilities for the development of evaluative practices in education which may, in the longer term prove to be as, if not more, effective than their ‘harder’ counterparts. This interdisciplinary discussion is then connected to the work of the Centre for Excellence in Teacher Training operating at the University of Sunderland (SUNCETT). The Centre is part of a nationally funded educational policy initiative in England. The overall aim of the Centre is to improve teaching and learning in the initial and continuing professional development of teachers. As part of this policy initiative, we are exploring how ‘hard’ and ‘softer’ approaches to educational evaluation may be used to recognise the impact of our work.

Keywords: Assessing Effectiveness, Impact, Teacher Education, Policy Implementation

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 12, pp.67-74. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 554.406KB).

Dr. Maggie Gregson

Principal Lectuer, School of Education and Lifelong Learning, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, UK

Dr. Maggie Gregson is a Principal Lecturer in Teacher Education in the School of Education and Lifelong Learning at the University of Sunderland. Her research and practice focuses upon the role of enquiry in developing pedagogy and professional learning in the Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) sector. She has a particular interest in the potential of thinking skills interventions to stimulate and support the development of teaching, thinking and the improvement of classroom practice. Her research has also involved investigating theories and taxonomies of thinking and learning, evaluating thinking skills interventions in schools and PCET contexts and the evaluation of the impact of Learning and Skills Council policy upon teaching learning and inclusion in the sector, particularly in relation to the teaching of adult literacy and numeracy. As part of her work as a Director of the University of Sunderland Centre for Excellence in Teacher Training (SUNCETT) she in currently involved in researching notions of ‘best practice’ and the development of innovative approaches to the initial and continuing professional development of teachers in PCET.

Dr. Lawrence Nixon

Senior Lecturer, School of Education and Lifelong Learning, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, UK

Lawrence Nixon is a Lecturer in Post Compulsory Education and Training at the University of Sunderland. He has worked in Community Education and Further Education. His research interest is philosophy of education and pedagogic practice. He has worked the topic of learning styles, identifying and interrogating implicit conceptions of subjectivity in these models and the way they seek to frame education policy, tools of implementation and discourses of ‘good’ practice and the appeal or non-appeal of these pictures to policy makers administrators and practitioners. His most recent research has looked at practitioner’s perceptions of policy, its forms of implementation and their work to marry these initiatives with their own understanding of teaching learning and assessment. As area mentor for The University of Sunderland Centre for Excellence in teacher Training (SUNCETT) he is currently contributing to research into practitioner led professional development and the role values play in driving and stimulating change beyond current expectations.


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