University of Massachusetts at Boston
Graduate College of Education
Critical & Creative Thinking Program
Evaluation of Educational Change
Instructor: Peter Taylor, Critical & Creative Thinking Program
Office: Wheatley 2nd flr 143.09 (near Counseling & School Psychology)
Class: M 4-6.30, in McC 2-628C
Office/phone call hours: M 1.40-3.40 by sign up or by arrangement.
Course Website: http://www.faculty.umb.edu/pjt/693-06.html
General email: Emails sent to email@example.com go to everyone in the
E-clippings: Clippings from the internet sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
will be archived for all to read at
This course covers techniques for and critical thinking about the evaluation of
changes in educational practices and policies in schools, organizations, and
informal contexts. Topics include quantitative and qualitative methods for
design and analysis, participatory design of practices and policies,
institutional learning, the wider reception or discounting of evaluations, and
selected case studies, including those arising from semester-long student
COURSE DESCRIPTION for Spring 2006
Theme: Cycles and epicycles of Action Research
First note that in this course "educational change" is construed broadly to include organizational change, training, and personal development, as well as
curricular and school change.
This course builds on the question: "If you have good ideas how do you get others to adopt and/or adapt them?" (in other words, how do you build a "constituency" around your idea). This concern can lead you into evaluating how good the ideas actually are (with respect to objectives you formulate) so you can demonstrate this to others. It can also lead you to work with others to develop the idea so it becomes theirs as well and thus something they're invested in. In any case, the first person in your constituency is yourself!
To prepare you for such work, class activities introduce tools for group facilitation, participatory planning, reflective practice, and systematic evaluation. We do all this within a framework of "Cycles and epicycles of Action Research."
PREREQUISITES: CrCrTh601 and 602, or permission of instructor.
For CCT students, this course is best taken in your third last semester (before
the Practicum and Synthesis).
ACCOMMODATIONS: Sections 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of
1990 offer guidelines for curriculum modifications and adaptations for students
with documented disabilities. If applicable, students may obtain adaptation
recommendations from the Ross Center (287-7430). The student must present
these recommendations to each professor within a reasonable period, preferably
by the end of the Drop/Add period.
Students are advised to retain a copy of this syllabus in personal files for
use when applying for certification, licensure, or transfer credit.
This syllabus is subject to change, but workload expectations will not be
increased after the semester starts. (Version 3 May. '06)
SECTIONS TO FOLLOW IN SYLLABUS
TEXTS and MATERIALS
Calhoun, E. F. (1994). How to Use Action Research in the Self-Renewing
School. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Schmuck, R. (1997). Practical Action Research for Change. Arlington
Heights, IL: Skylight. (used copies available via amazon.com)
Readings for the course consist primarily of individual articles and book chapters. Most of these can be downloaded from the Healey Library's Electronic Reserves (marked ERes on the syllabus, docutek.lib.umb.edu/ (path: Electronic reserves and Course Materials | select cct693, enter password provided by instructor) or e-journals).
Recommended: portable storage (e.g., zip disk or flash drives), synchronization & bibliographic
software. (For more info see http://www.cct.umb.edu/competencies.html)
Additional materials linked to the course website include:
Notes on Teaching/Learning Interactions (including guidelines for assignments and links to previous students' work)
Rubrics (for course as a whole & for individual assignments), including
Objectives for Thoughtful and Responsive Educators
Handouts, some non-copyrighted Readings and other Resources, and examples of
student reports from previous classes. (If link doesn't work for a handout that you need, notify the instructor.
More detail about the assignments, expectations, and rationale is
provided in the Notes on Teaching/Learning Interactions and Rubrics (see links above) and in handouts that will be linked to this website. (Alert the instructor if a link does not work to a handout you need.)
Written assignments and presentations (2/3 of grade)
A. Action Research assignments (four) and Evaluation Clock assignment
B. Design Project: Design an Action Research Process related to a change or intervention in
a specific classroom, workplace or personal teaching/learning practice, an
educational policy, an educational institution, or a social policy. Your design should include how you will evaluate the existing situation, how you would
facilitate the reflective and/or collaborative process in which a constituency shapes a
change or intervention, and how you would evaluate the outcome with a view to expanding further the constituency for adopting/adapting the change or intervention. (If you actually carry out some of the design, that will deepen the project, but it is not required.)
A sequence of 5 assignments is required--initial
description, notes on research and planning, work-in-progress presentation,
complete draft report, and final (1500-2500 words) report.
Participation and contribution to the class process (1/3 of grade)
C. Building learning community through prepared participation and
attendance at class meetings (=13 items)
D. Personal/Professional Development (PD) Workbook submitted for perusal
before week 7 (with worksheet in week 7) & at the end of the semester (=2
E. Minimum of two in-office or phone conferences on your assignments, PD
workbook, and project -- one before mid-semester break; the other before week
10 (=2 items)
F. Peer commentary on another student's draft report (with copy submitted to
PT or included in PD workbook)
G. Assignment Check-list maintained by student and submitted week 12
H. Process Review on the development of your work, included with your PD
Workbook at end-of-semester perusal.
SCHEDULE OF CLASSES
Class 1 (1/23) Introductions
The framework of Action Research Cycles and Epicycles is introduced through a compressed example.
Critical Incident Questionnaire
Homework tasks include:
Begin work on the three-week Action Research project, "Helping each other prepare for the post-CCT future in which each of you attempt to create supportive community for your professional and personal development" (see handout)
review the syllabus and overview, get set-up to use the internet and computers, download Notes on Teaching/Learning Interactions, peruse vision charts and evaluations from previous semesters, begin your PD workbook, and sign up for first conference (to which you should bring your PD workbook).
Class 2 (1/30) Action Research Session 1
Reading: Schmuck, p. vii-29
Feedback on Critical Incident Questionnaire
Questions on Syllabus and course mechanics
From ill-defined case through structured brainstorming to defining
problems, tasks, and lines of cross-communication for the week ahead (handout). Continue Action Research work if time permits.
Additional reading: Greenwald, "Learning from Problems."
*A* Asmt. 1: Contribution and response to AR wiki by 2/4
Class 3 (2/6) Action Research Session 2
Pre- or post-class reading on Focused Conversations: Stanfield, 6-29.
Focused Conversation on Action Research experience to date (handout)
Work in small groups or individually, with coaching by instructor: review tasks undertaken; plan presentations (including coordinating with others); define tasks remaining, and lines of cross-communication for the week ahead; generate invitation list.
Class 4 (2/13) Action Research Session 3
*A* Asmts. 2 & 3: Oral presentation and Draft written report from each student.
Presentation to peers and guest panel (invited by Action Researchers)
Post-class reading: To reflect on your experience, start early on reading for
classes 5 and 6.
2/20 No class (Presidents' Day)
Narrative: You can now examine what others have written in
light of your own Action Research experience.
Class 5 (2/27) Comparing your Experience as Novice Action Researchers with
the Considered Formulations from Other Sources, I
Reading: Schmuck, pages 29-146
Dialogue Process session
Class 6 (**Thursday 3/9**, place McC 2-628C) Comparing your Experience as Novice Action Researchers with the Considered Formulations from Other Sources, II
Reading: Calhoun, especially chapters 1-3
[cancelled: Guest Panel of school change action researchers]
Small group work on guidelines for small group work and on compare-contrast
*A* First conference must be completed by 3/10 to discuss Action
Research experience, the course thus far, and your PD workbook (bring to
*A* Submit worksheet on PD workbook and research organization (as part of participation item on PD workbooks)
*A* Schedule second conference before 4/21 to discuss your projects and
use of evaluation clock
3/13 No class (Spring break)
Class 7 (3/20) Formulating informative comparisons as a basis for evaluations, I
Reading: Weiss, chapter 1.
Comparison steps (2-4) in the evaluation clock, used to analyze a clipping on
the effects of a smoking ban
Critical Incident Questionnaire on course to date
Post-class reading: PT's precis of Pietro, Evaluation Sourcebook, p.
22-23 (on evaluation clock) and p. 12-17, & 21 (to provide context)
(handout); Guide to the Evaluation clock (handout)
*A* Amst. 4 due: Reflection paper (500-1000 words) relating your Action
Research experience to points made by at least one of the following readings
Selection from Calhoun, How to Use Action Research;
Hitchcock & Hughes, Chap. 3, "Access, ethics, and objectivity"; Greenwood
& Levin, Chaps. 8 & 11, "Action research cases," & "Action science
and organizational learning"; Rokovich, et al., "Implementing change"; Jenkins,
"Action learning"; CEDAC, Our Economy; Greenwald, Science in
Progress; Madison Metropolitan School District, "Classroom action research"
(and linked pages), study of CIT
Class 8 (3/27) Strategic Participatory Planning, applied to personal course
and life projects
Reading: Weissglass, "Constructivist Listening," Spencer, chaps. 5 &
7; also Review Project reports from previous semesters (online using password protected site or borrowable from PT.)
Feedback on Critical Incident Questionnaire
Supportive Listening (a variant of constructivist listening) on one's
hopes/fears re: educational change
Strategic personal planning workshop (about the educational/organizational
change you want to facilitate/promote) (handout)
In-class drafting of initial description of AR design project
Post-class reading: Materials on Strategic Participatory Planning from ICA
*A* Asmt. 5a. Use the comparison steps (2-4) in the evaluation clock to analyze a
clipping on an evaluation or related study (chosen during class 7, handout)
Reading: Hitchcock & Hughes, Chapter 5, Designing, planning and evaluating
Class 9 (4/3) Formulating informative comparisons as a basis for evaluations, II
Introduction to statistical formulations of comparisons and background
Peer coaching on Evaluation clock assignment and its extension to
Additional readings: More from Patton, Weiss, Stark, or precis of Patton or
*A* Asmt due by email by 4/8: Initial Project Description (revised in response to PT's comments)
Class 10 (4/10) Participatory Action Research
Reading: CEDAC, Our Economy, Taylor, "Epilogue," 204-210, others TBA
Video segment on Myles Horton and the Highlander Center, a longterm source of
Participatory Action Research
*A* Asmt. 5b due: Full evaluation clock used to analyze the chosen
clipping and plan the missing pieces of the study.
4/17 No class (Patriots' Day)
*A* Asmt due by email by 4/17: Notes on Research and Planning for
Individual Student Projects
Class 11 (4/24) Work-in-progress Presentations on Student Projects
Work-in-progress Presentations and peer/instructor evaluations
*A* Asmt due: Work-in-progress Presentation on Project
Titles of Projects
Jan Coe" Collaborative action research to develop a problem-based
learning approach to library research instruction"
Michelle Hardy, "Committing to Developing Scientific Minds Through Self Evaluation"
Maho Hatano, " Help me to improve!: The evaluation component of psychological help tool kits for my personal development to be a healer like educator "
Doan van Thua,"Plan For Necessary Changes For Sunday School For Vietnamese American Children In Dorchester, Massachusetts"