Friday, April 29, 2011

Groups of Teachers building their own capacity?

A client requires an evaluation of a teacher development initiative. This initiative aims to establish a teacher network which brings teachers from different schools together. It is hoped that the teachers will develop their own capacity with the help of a facilitator that has some content to share.

Rogers & Funnell (2010 - Purposeful Programme Theory, Jossey Bass) introduced me to some network theory, and they also provide a representation of a community capacity building programme "archetype". This archetype sets out the steps which must occur for this kind of programme to work. The steps are: (Not necessarily in a linear order).

1. Community develops a better understanding of issues,
opportunities, and challenges that it can address and potential
projects, activities, or processes through which to address them.

They then mobilise their human capital, social capital, institutional capital, economic capital and natural capital, which may result in:

2. Community developing an awareness and understanding of one or
more elements of its existing capacity.

3. Community develops a better understanding of the relevance of
its existing capacity to take up opportunities, projects, and
challenges, what further capacity is required, and who requires it.
write-up of Network Theory that I found particularly useful

4. Community identifies and undertakes activities, processes, and
projects that successfully develop required capacity

5. Community taps into and applies existing and/or newly
developed capacity to address challenges and seize opportunities

6. Community identifies how it can sustain and enhance its
capacity and looks for new opportunities to apply capacity

7. Stronger Communities:
Enhanced and maintained well-being of communities

The evaluation sets out to look for proof that the teacher development worked: by checking if the teachers' practices have changed, and looking for evidence that the learners have benefited. I'm making the argument that the result of establishing a sustainable network should also be looked at separately - as a different category of results.

To evaluate the network, we'll have to use social network analysis methods. An AEA LinkedIn discussion alerted me to a programme called NODEXL (A free plug-in for Excel)
which I intend to try out.

This tutorial from the "Findings group" explains some basic concepts in social network analysis.

All that's left to do, is to apply these new things and to explain to colleagues that Social Network Analysis has nothing to do with Facebook or Twitter!

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