This is where you come in.
The idea behind "works in progress" is quite simple. The documents below are musings still being developed. Some are relatively new, and others have been put aside to mature. Or perhaps for me to mature.
Please feel free to respond to the ideas, and help develop them.
Over the past few years I've been involved in several action research based projects. Some have worked well, and others ... well let's say not so well. So a colleague, Robyn Bailey, and I started to think about the kinds of conditions that helped and hindered action research. Could we ask some questions before we started that were good predictors of eventual success. We reflected on our experiences and read the literature.
We came to the conclusion that there were two critical aspects of the action research process - what makes it different from other kinds of inquiry. The first is about the ability of those involved to act on the basis of critical reflection, the second is the ability of those involved to reflect critically on action. We also decided that there were three aspects of the situation worth asking questions about; the people likely to be involved, the actual task or situation, and the environment within which the people and task reside.
This table, which is still in its early stages of development, is our attempt to structure some questions that will help us decide whether a particular situation is suitable for an action research approach. We welcome feedback on what you agree with, what you disagree with, what isn't clear, and what we have missed out.
Evaluation capacity building is very high profile at the moment. Just how do you get busy people in busy organisations to undertake high quality evaluations of their programs and activities ? Most of the focus is on skill development and (for want of a better word) promoting evaluation as A Good Thing. I'm less convinced by that, and wonder whether there is a difference between evaluation capacity and evaluation capability. Anyway here is a short paper I presented to a conference recently. There's still work to be done.
I've long been interested in the use of large group processes in evaluation. By large group processes, I mean processes that involve 50 or more people in one place at one time.
I've been involved in large group processes that exceed 500 people, all involved in some form of evaluative activity. But is it real evaluation ? Some large group thinkers say that no it isn't and never can be, since large groups tend to be poor at processing and analysing data rigorously and accurately. In any case, they say, large group processes are primarily about developing commitment.
I'm not quite convinced by that argument, and still seeking some answers. Here's where I've got to so far.
As I've indicated elsewhere, I'm no lover of strategic planning. Unfortunately, that's what many people think is strategy. Indeed the confusion that surrounds what exactly strategy is, and what relevance it has, fascinates me. Here is an attempt to come to grips with the implications of some of my reading in this enormously diverse area.