A Learning Circle (LC) is a structure for organizing the work of a small group to accomplish a specified task. You can learn more about the LC model that this project will use by visiting http://sites.google.com/site/onlinelearningcircles/. In this activity, LCs will be the supportive learning environment in which you will develop evaluation skills and knowledge that you can use in your everyday work. As a way to focus the content of this learning circle, each participant will construct an evaluation plan of a project that is currently being funded by the Native Hawaiian Education Program, and develop, improve, or enhance evaluation activities related to their project.
A Learning Circle brings together a group of people in a process of collective inquiry to explore issues and questions that are of mutual interest to the group. The group itself decides where to focus its collective attention and is only guided by a facilitator to deepen its collective learning. As such the Learning Circle process can take different many forms. While a few opening activities and tasks have been selected to help get this group moving, the direction, format, and activities of this group may be modified as the group develops and becomes more comfortable with each other. This process will be facilitated by Dr. Anna Ah Sam. Dr. Ah Sam is currently an American Evaluation Association's 2009 Learning Circles Fellow, and is facilitating this process as part of her fellowship experience. If you have any questions about this process or your part in it please feel free to contact the facilitator Anna Ah Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org or directly at 808-956-9217.
The Native Hawaiian Education Program (NHEP), administered by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education, provides millions of dollars each year in grant funds to organizations that implement innovative educational programs to assist Native Hawaiians. The NHEP is authorized under Title VII, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
There has been growing concern, on behalf of the Federal government and within the Native Hawaiian community, that the measures and indicators currently being used by NHEP grantees are not well aligned with the intent of the Native Hawaiian Education Act to educate Hawaii’s children from a Hawaiian cultural perspective. Improving Native Hawaiian education requires holistic and integrated approaches that address both the classroom in which children receive instruction and communities in which children are raised” (Ka Huakai: Native Hawaiian Educationl Asssessment, 2005, p.15). Additionally, many of the educational indicators currently used by the US DOE don’t reflect the goals and values identified by the Native Hawaiian community. It is widely agreed by the Native Hawaiian community that learning must be broadened to measure more than simply years of schooling, academic achievement in specific subjects, or performance on standardized assessments.
In the last two years, the Native Hawaiian Education Council has initiated efforts to build culturally aligned Native Hawaiian “measuring sticks” to fully capture NHEP grantees’ stories of success and accomplishment. They have made great strides in their task to establish a set of target impacts for NHEP funded efforts that will align funding priorities to program design and evaluation efforts, creating a culture of impact and accountability that meets the needs of funder and community, alike.
NHEP grantees vary in terms of their size, level of resources, and internal capacity related to evaluation. Many grantees rely on NHEP and similar funding for their “bread and butter.” They are deeply invested in serving the Native Hawaiian community and are motivated to evaluate their programs. However, not all organizations hire external evaluators skilled in culturally responsive evaluation, nor do they have staff with specific training in evaluation. This LC would enable interested staff from these NHEP-funded organizations and/or external evaluators interested in conducting culturally responsive evaluations to build their evaluation skills around educational projects serving the Native Hawaiian community.
Six to eight evaluators, and/or staff from Native Hawaiian non-profit organizations, who are charged with evaluating projects funded by the US Department of Education’s Native Hawaiian Education Program. Ideally, participants will represent 6-8 different organizations within Hawaii who currently, or have previously received, or a future applicants for funding through the NHEP.
Roles and Responsibilities
(1) The facilitator will coordinate LC meetings, update the LC website, serve as a “supportive coach” to LC members, and conduct an evaluation of the LC initiative.
(2) Participants will commit at least one hour each week to the LC. Each participant will engage in bi-monthly meetings for a period of 4 months (8 meetings total), and to mutually agreed upon tasks related to individual and group deliverables.
(3) Participants will complete a pre-survey of their knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward culturally responsive evaluation prior to or at the first meeting, a post-survey of the same at the end of the 4 months, and a follow-up survey 3-6 months following the end of the LC.Modes of Communication
There will be a variety of communication modes. One meeting a month will be face-to-face (if possible and if it is the consensus of the group) for a total of 4 meetings, and one meeting a month will be via SKYPE (for a total of 4 meetings). The schedule (day/time), mode (in person or via SKYPE), and duration (1 hour, 1.5 hours, 2 hours) will be determined at the first meeting, which will be face-to-face. Members in the LC will communicate with each other asynchronously on an ongoing basis for sharing information and providing feedback to group members.Deliverables and Dissemination
Specific deliverables will be discussed at the first meeting. Examples of completed products may be:
(1) Evaluation plans for specific NHEP-funded projects
(2) A program logic model on what culturally responsive evaluation within a Native Hawaiian context should address
(3) A presentation at the annual meeting of the Hawaii Pacific Evaluation Association (September 2010)
Given that the participants are likely to be employed full-time, the time commitment may be an issue that affects their full participation in the LC. Also, if prospective participants reside on the Neighbor Islands or elsewhere in the Pacific, they may be unable to meet face-to-face for some of the meetings. Lastly, some prospective participants may not be comfortable with technology or with participating in distance-based meetings. As a result, they may not want to participate. However, if the time commitment and mode of communication is clearly mentioned as a requirement for participating, this may aid in attracting participants who can fully commit. Additionally, it is anticipated that because each member will be bringing their own NHEP-funded project as a learning tool to be worked on by the group, this will motivate them to participate.