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Educational Evaluation, Methodology and
Changing Political Contexts

RCBN Seminar at The University of the West of England, Bristol

Friday, January 28th, 2005

 



In 1972 a transatlantic group of evaluators and evaluation sponsors met at the First Cambridge Evaluation Conference to deliberate over the state of the emergent discipline of educational programme evaluation. This nascent form of enquiry had, in its early years, established certain methodological conventions drawn from the social sciences which were widely perceived to be failing to provide the needed information service. The conference brought together a ‘new wave’ of educational evaluators committed to providing appropriate information services, though within a broad framework of democratic obligations to public knowledge. Conference participants, from the beginning, were broadly agreed about the methodological limitations of an approach that used narrow criteria to measure the productivity of interventions, and thereby abstracted their effects from the complexities of change and of interactions taking place within the milieux of particular action contexts. The ‘new directions’ they had been forging were being variously described as Anthropological, Illuminative, Case Study and eventually Democratic and Responsive approaches.

In 2004 a sixth conference was convened to re-visit the manifesto in the light of a changed policy context characterized by the erosion of trust, interaction and mutual understanding between government, the professions and the citizenry. The Sixth conference reviewed the original methodological manifesto and determined that these conditions – especially the erosion of public trust - are as disabling of effective government as they are of appropriate professional practice and an engaged citizenry. These matters fall within the remit of programme evaluation – notwithstanding the recent failures of the evaluation community to embrace such challenges. The Conference is publishing a new manifesto, responsive to these new contexts and underpinned by a commitment to restoring trust between government, the professions and the citizenry through effective and democratic methodological practices .

Professor Saville Kushner and others will lead a critical review of the draft of a Manifesto for Educational Evaluation generated by the influential international series of seminars entitled, The Cambridge Evaluation Conferences. This sets out a political and methodological response to contemporary political and policy contexts in education. Conversations around the issues raised by the manifesto will be used as a basis for further deliberations over the role and nature of evaluation.

The cost of the event is free to members of the TLRP, and all travel and other costs can be met by the RCBN for TLRP researchers. For more information about financial support in attending this event please contact the RCBN. For non-TLRP researchers there is a nominal cost of £20 per person. Lunch and refreshments are included.

If you are interested in attending this event then please contact the RCBN or complete a booking form.

         
 
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Changing Political Contexts
   
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This page was last updated 25th October 2004
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