Anthony, Jared Judd
jjanthony at wsu.edu
Fri Jan 19 14:42:43 PST 2007
Dorothy, et al -
I believe I understand your question, but as Guba and Lincoln would no doubt assert, the reader will have to decide whether or not that's the case.
On the one hand, I think I want to guard against reifying (in my own mind) fourth generation evaluation as a replacement object for objectivity. I'm fascinated by the challenge of social constructivist ontology, and as much as I want to try to stabilize epistemological approaches and methodological practices that grow out of it, maybe a better way to honor that fascination is to actively avoid stabilizing them. Maybe fourth generation evaluation is an ideal, like sustainability or democracy, that is worth working toward, even in the face of obstacles and evidence that appear to render it unattainable in ideal form.
On the other hand (or, at least, another hand), the above hokum probably should not be used as an excuse to neglect responsibility. If I decide to pursue an ideal, I have to work hard to avoid undermining that pursuit (to mix metaphors in a possibly coherent way). If I'm chasing the benefits of fourth generation evaluation (more informed and sophisticated constructions for everyone involved), I should try to make sure I'm not simultaneously building a tunnel to ostensible objective truth that could end up leading people to overgeneralizations and overly confident but misinformed and unsophisticated constructions.
With those prefaces, then, my current thinking is that there isn't necessarily a contradiction between fourth generation ideals and translating results into quantifiables that are more recognizable to positivist stakeholders. In Bill's example, his students came to class expecting to earn a grade by the end of the semester. As long as they know that the socially-constructed rubric for that grade will be employed in deciding on a grade, I'm not sure there's a problem. Certainly, the grades will go on transcripts and thus take on social lives of their own detached from the much richer descriptive information that was used in bringing them into existence. But that doesn't negate the benefits reaped by the students throughout the process of thinking about what should count as effective writing and coming into contact with other students' (and Bill's) constructions of the same. They've likely come to a more complicated and useful understanding of writing as a social act. And, this is perhaps even more contestable, the grades arrived at are probably better metonymies of the work they did that semester. Of course they are still reductions, but they probably mean more to the students and more accurately refect the quality of the work they did.
Now if anyone is still with me, I want to pull out of that what I think should be retained. I said that as long as the students know it's all going to be boiled down to a grade, we're OK. And then the corollary of that is that to the maximum extent possible within material circumstances, we should try to keep that richer, more discursive output of the process attached to the metonymy. By that I mean, as I tried to argue at the end of class on Wednesday, that it is incumbent upon the fourth generation evaluator (for that matter, on any evaluator) to attempt to guide interpretations of her or his results by offering explanations of the process by which they were constructed and suggestions for valid (informed, sophisticated) uses. I also think that guidance should include examples of what the evaluator believes would be invalid uses of the results. As teachers, we may not be able to do this with grades (unless we work at Evergreen State College, where actually the guidance takes the place of the grades). But with our study of the reflective prompt bluebook responses, I don't see why we can't.
None of this is to say that I've resolved the conflict I feel about asking the students for a response within a context of individual evaluation and then drawing interpretations about those responses for another context entirely. If anyone prefers addressing that problem rather than the one I posted earlier, and if anyone is still reading, I offer it as an alternative question.
From: eng1508-bounces at lists.wsu.edu on behalf of dworden at mail.wsu.edu
Sent: Fri 1/19/2007 1:33 PM
To: eng1508 at lists.wsu.edu
Subject: [Eng1508] question
My question is a bit complicated (and imperfectly formed) so please bear
In bureaucracies, individual evaluations often occur within evaluation
hierarchies. In the corporate world, for example, an employee may be
evaluated and the results of that evaluation are then factored into an
evaluation of the department which in turn becomes part of the evaluation
of a branch or company. So how can fourth generation evaluation be
implemented at the "lower levels" of this hierarchy? Here is another,
more specific, example. In his class, Bill used some of the techniques of
fourth generation evaluation to evaluate his students writing. To make
the evaluation intelligible for the school (since it will function as part
of the larger evaluation of the student in the form of transcripts) he
then had to translate the "results" of a fourth generation approach into
the more traditional form of letter grades. Is translating "results"
garnered through fourth generation evaluation into more recognized
(traditionalist) forms an acceptable move for a fourth generation
evaluator to make?
I hope that makes sense to someone out there. Let me know if it is
Eng1508 mailing list
Eng1508 at lists.wsu.edu
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Eng1508