DML 2016 Course

Program Evaluations for Connected Learning 

The free and open online course offered spring of 2016, Program Evaluations for Connected Learning taught by William Penuel, University of Colorado at Boulder, will explore different theories and approaches to evaluate connected learning in the field. Participants will be provided with practical experience in the process of educational program evaluation by exploring “real world” problems brought forth by youth serving programs acting as case studies. This course is intended to study real world scenarios and to identify real world evaluation solutions.

Post-Course Survey

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Hear Dr. William Penuel discuss what his free upcoming online course is all about in this short teaser video:

About Dr. Penuel 

Bill Penuel is professor in educational psychology and the learning sciences in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research focuses on learning with digital media in both formal and informal settings. One strand of research focuses on how young children learn literacy and science skills through joint engagements with media with peers and preschool teachers. Another strand focuses on the design and implementation innovative technologies to support subject matter learning in math and science. A third examines how youth can use digital tools for digital storytelling to communicate findings from action research in their communities. Penuel’s research has appeared in the American Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, the American Journal of Evaluation, Science Education, and the Journal of the Learning Sciences. He is currently on the editorial board for Teachers College Record, American Journal of Evaluation, and Cognition and Instruction.

Course Schedule

session1In this course introduction, Bill will discuss the goals of the course and describe the course structure. He will identify programs that will be featured in the course, along with some of the panelists whose specialty is evaluating out of school learning programs. Bill will also outline key features of the dialogic, participatory, and improvement orientation to evaluation presented in the course.

session2A program theory of change is a map that shows how key elements of a program design are expected to produce key outcomes. In participatory approaches to evaluation, we develop that map in consultation with stakeholders. In this session, we’ll discuss key components of a theory of change for university based programs housed in a center to promote civic and community engagement.

session3In connected learning programs, evaluation designs need to fit within the ongoing flow of the program and support its goals. In this session, we will discuss how a team at CU Boulder designed an evaluation of a connected learning program, FUSE Studios, to support the goals of the program and minimize disruptions to youth engagement in activities.

session4Evaluation can benefit from locally-developed outcome measures that align with the specific goals of the program. In this session, we will describe how a team collaborated to develop a set of survey items intended to measure the outcomes of connected learning in a wide variety of programs that are part of the New York City Hive Learning Network.

session5Implementation variation is common in projects and can affect program outcomes. In this session, we will explore how a project that is co-designing a connected curriculum in English Language Arts is developing and using evidence of implementation of project-based units that integrate goals for socioemotional and interest-powered learning.

session6Large-scale evaluation studies can answer causal questions about program impact. Well-designed studies can learn from implementation about when and for whom programs work. In this session, Bill will interview researchers about their approach to evaluating selected activities of the National Writing Project.

session7Evaluation reporting is an integral part of the evaluation process. To be useful and used, evaluators must present findings clearly and help stakeholders make sense of them. In this session, Bill will interview experienced evaluators of out of school programs about their efforts to communicate evaluation findings to stakeholders in a way that they can be taken up and addressed.

session8In this session, Bill will review key ideas in the online course and summarize interactions that took place in both the online and face-to-face course.




Bill Penuel
Affiliation: University of Colorado at Boulder
Carrie Allen
Doctoral Candidate
Affiliation: University of Colorado at Boulder