Saturday, 20 November 2010

Evaluation Workshop

The external evaluator for this project  is Professor Mick Healey who ran a workshop with the team on 19th November 2010 to discuss good methods of evaluation.  It was suggested that we should use the Theory of Change approach (Hart et al., 2009) to evaluate our project. 

Mick outlines that:
"The framework attempts to develop an understanding of the relationships between outcomes and the activities

and contextual factors which may influence the outcomes.  One of the attractions of the ToC approach is that it may be used to extend our understanding of a project, rather than audit it.  Hence the key question in our case might be, for example: “What have we learned about enhancing fieldwork learning?”.  It is essentially a narrative approach, which tells the story of the project."

The team completed the pro-forma with the headings:
Components of Theory of Change
1.    Current situation:
2.    Enabling Factors / Resources:
3.    Processes / Activities:
4.    Desired Outcomes:
5.    Longer-term impact:

This approach facilitated a brainstorming session and one of the key outcomes of this approach was the decision that the name of the project should be changed to the more generic: Enhancing Fieldwork Learning.

The first version of the Theory of Change will be our baseline from which all subsequent versions can be compared to to demonstrate how the project has changed and moved forward.

Hart, D., Diercks-O’Brien, A.G. and Powell, A. (2009) Exploring stakeholder engagement in impact evaluation planning in educational development work, Evaluation, 15: 285-306

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Field Work: DerryGonnelly October 2010

Our first meeting took place in Derrygonnelly, Northern Ireland.  Julian Park, Derek France and Katharine Welsh joined Brian Whalley and the second year cohort of Geography students from Queen's University Belfast

We enjoyed a pleasant weekend at the Field Studies Council in Derrygonnely, a great location to host our first meeting.  Brian distributed a student-centred questionnaires amongst ~ 70 students about the software and hardware that they use at present for their learning in general (not specific to the fieldwork).

Field Centre accomodation in Derrygonnely.

We joined Brian's fieldtrip on the Saturday and enjoyed much of the local landscape whilst gaining an insight to how students interact on fieldwork.This part of the trip was a 'Cook's Tour' style activity to orientate students before moving on to the 'Problem Solving' later in the day.

Lough Erne, the small islands in the centre are thought to be drumlins.
Looking across Lough Erne towards the Atlantic Ocean which can be seen on the horizon on the left of the photograph
The group moved on to Mullaghmore in County Sligo (Republic of Ireland) to investigate the sand dunes and take some GPS measurements of beach profiles to contrast the work they had carried out in the morning along the river.
Looking over to Mullaghmore.
We then stopped at Bundoran, a popular surfing spot to look at the diamicts or "boulder clay" which mysteriously lacked boulders. A possible dissertation project?


A beautiful Autumn day, sunny and not too cold 
- a perfect example of typical Geography fieldtrip weather!

On Sunday, Julian Park and Katharine Welsh spoke to some of these students and demonstrated how we might use netbooks and GIS in the field.  The students were interested in the project and  extremely keen to use cutting edge technology (iPads and iPhones) in the field.