Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Theory and practice

Donald Clark’s Plan B blog is excellent, and I commend it to you.  His recent endeavour, to identify the 50 most influential theorists in the learning and development canon, and blog about each of them (in 50 days!) is unparalleled, and deserves to be published to a much wider audience.  Donald eventually blogged about 51, with 2 deletions and 3 additions from the original list, following lively debate.  The 51 included not just the usual suspects like Bloom, Kolb and Maslow, but the likes of Locke, Marx and Freud, all the way back to Socrates, Confucius and Jesus.  A veritable tour de force.

His last post, on Kirkpatrick, caught my eye.  The only evaluation theorist to make it onto Donald’s list.  And for good reason, as whatever the merits of Phillips, Brinkerhoff, Basarab and others, nobody else has enjoyed the sustained influence of Kirkpatrick and his “family business”, as Donald recently described it.

My response to Donald is on his blog, but one other comment he made rang very true for me:

"Evaluation should be done externally. The rewards to internal evaluators for producing a favourable evaluation report vastly outweigh the rewards for producing an unfavourable report”.

I have long held this to be the case, and it was my primary motivation in setting up the independent learning evaluation consultancy, Airthrey.

1 comment:

Candace said...

I have never thought about the need for external evaluation. You are correct. There is an inherent conflict of interest. Unfortunately, I've never gotten any traction for even a small internal evaluation, let alone trying to convince the upper management to give money away to an outsider.

I will keep gently pushing though and after reading this, if/when I'm ever in an organization that expects evaluation, I will certainly suggest doing it the right way.

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