RETROSPECTIVE APPLICATION OF SYSTEMS THINKING ANDISOMORPHISM TO A COMPLEX   MULTI-INSTITUTIONAL   EVALUATION PROJECT      ...
What’s on the Agenda?• Case presentation• How can systems thinking be applied to  the Bridge Program?• How can isomorphism...
Program DescriptionEvaluation & Evaluator RoleThe ProblemCASE PRESENTATION
Program DescriptionThe UT-PSCC Bridge Program was conceived as part of a statewide initiative to provide additional transf...
Evaluation and Evaluator RoleStudent evaluator  – Internal (UT student)  – External (not employed by the program)Evaluatio...
The ProblemInitial lack of…  – Organization  – CommunicationMultiple university systems  – Shared responsibilities/offices...
What are systems?How did we view system boundaries in the Bridge Program?HOW CAN SYSTEMS BEAPPLIED TO THE BRIDGEPROGRAM?
Systems & Boundaries   In general, a system is a, “complex whole of            related parts” (Cabrera)In evaluation:• Wha...
The Focus   Acknowledging & understanding theinterrelations among program elements as  well as between the program & exter...
Key Systems in the Bridge ProgramUT-PSCC Bridge   Program                          TN                      Legislature    ...
A Closer Look                                 UT-PSCC Bridge Program                                                      ...
One Step Deeper•   Within the program are     The University of Tennessee    two university systems•   Within each univers...
What is isomorphism?How did we apply isomorphism to the Bridge Program?HOW CAN ISOMORPHISM ANDBOUNDARIES BE APPLIED TOTHE ...
Isomorphism• Etymology  – Iso = “equal” and Morphosis = “to form”• Mathematics  – 1:1 correspondence between two mathemati...
Isomorphism• “Recursive replication” of processes and content (Liddle &  Saba, 1983)• “Overlay of overlays” with philosoph...
Awareness of IsomorphismEvaluators can better understand:  – The similarities and overlap between systems  – The interdepe...
Isomorphism & the Bridge Program                                 UT-PSCC Bridge Program                                   ...
Implications for future evaluationsISOMORPHISM,BOUNDARIES, ANDEVALUATOR COMPETENCY
Implications for Future EvaluationsIncorporating both Isomorphism andsystems thinking enhances the evaluator’sability to… ...
QUESTIONS?
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Retrospective application of systems thinking and isomorphism to a complex multi institutional evaluation project-barlow & heidel 2012

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Here we present a case-based talk that applies both systems thinking and the concept of isomorphism to a complex, mulch-institutional college bridge program. For more information please contact Patrick Barlow at Pbarlow1@utk.edu

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  • Will emphasize that we created this presentation to be very visual because systems and isomorphism are both concepts that are better understood by “drawing pictures” instead of reading.
  • Notes: In this slide I will describe the program as a cooperative effort with the University of Tennessee & Pellissippi State Community College, and that it was A) inspired by a similar program at Clemson University, and B) put in place following a TN legislative initiative (will find to cite it). I will then describe the basic timeline for the program, and will include (not in the slide): Invite only program that is sent to students on the UT wait list, and the average cohort size has been between 60 and 75 students. 2010 Complete College Act of TennesseeSummer Session (UT)Live on the UT campusEnroll in two summer courses at the UT campus.Fall Semester (PSCC)Take full course load at PSCCMust maintain GPA above 2.0 & 15 credit hrs.Continue to live on UT campusSpring Semester (PSCC)Take full course load at PSCCGPA above 2.5 & 30 credit hrs.Receive “Bridge Back to UT” orientationFall Semester Year 2 (UT)Enroll at UT as a full time student
  • Full notes:Student evaluator: the point here is to outline that I was only a student evaluator, and I was in a dangerous position of being both an internal evaluator (the program reflects UT who employs and educates me) and an external (I am not employed by or have a stake in the program’s success)Internal (UT student)External (not employed by the program)Evaluation Design: Briefly plan to mention that my perspective on evaluation, although I am a stats person by passion and training, is that no whole story can be told with numbers alone. Therefore…Mixed methods design with multiple planned data sources including survey, interview, and focus group data.Program “Schematic”: My advisor told me it may be a good idea to use a program schematic to visually represent the program and various stakeholders. This schematic is actually the backbone for today’s presentation.
  • Full Notes: This slide outlines the major “problem” with the case I am presenting, and what makes it so complicated. Initial lack of…Organization: No one knew what the program was, and one knew what to do with these students. (Example of students/parents calling in). What was the role of each school? Who led the program? The dual enrollment issue, and how were the various university systems equipped to handle it? (i.e. exceptions and overrides had to be made)Communication: Students/Parents had no idea what was going on (their words). Summer course instructors were given NO information about the program other than the FAQs, were not involved with the planning process, and did not know how to answer student questions. The evaluator was given NO information, limited information, or the wrong information from various stakeholders, emails went unanswered/unreturned, and follow-ups did not happen.Multiple university systemsShared responsibilities/offices: Examples of financial aid, advising, admissions. Number of stakeholders: self explanatoryPhysical distance between systems: Other sides of town from one another, PSCC has multiple campuses and the students could use any of them, student issues with getting to campus while living at UTConstantly evolving program: The turnover in leadership (Evaluator was bounced from at least three supposed “leaders” of the program before finally meeting with the right person). Doing something for the first time is always a learning process.
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  • Retrospective application of systems thinking and isomorphism to a complex multi institutional evaluation project-barlow & heidel 2012

    1. 1. RETROSPECTIVE APPLICATION OF SYSTEMS THINKING ANDISOMORPHISM TO A COMPLEX MULTI-INSTITUTIONAL EVALUATION PROJECT Patrick B. Barlow PhD. Student in Evaluation, Statistics, & Measurement, the University of Tennessee Eric Heidel, PhD Assistant Professor of Biostatistics, the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine.
    2. 2. What’s on the Agenda?• Case presentation• How can systems thinking be applied to the Bridge Program?• How can isomorphism and boundaries be applied to the bridge program?• Isomorphism, boundaries, and evaluator competency• Questions
    3. 3. Program DescriptionEvaluation & Evaluator RoleThe ProblemCASE PRESENTATION
    4. 4. Program DescriptionThe UT-PSCC Bridge Program was conceived as part of a statewide initiative to provide additional transfer pathways and strengthen ties between two-year and four-year state institutions.Summer Session (UT) Wait-listed UT students who enroll in the program move into UT housing Enroll in multiple UT summer coursesFall Session (PSCC) Students continue to live on the UT campus Take full course load at PSCC Must maintain 2.0GPA & 15 transferable creditsSpring Session (PSCC) Continue to live at UT Courses at PSCC Must have 2.5 GPS & 30 creditsIf benchmarks are met, then the student is guaranteed enrollment at UT thefollowing Fall Semester.
    5. 5. Evaluation and Evaluator RoleStudent evaluator – Internal (UT student) – External (not employed by the program)Evaluation Design – Mixed methods design with multiple planned data sources including survey, interview, and focus group data. Program “Schematic”
    6. 6. The ProblemInitial lack of… – Organization – CommunicationMultiple university systems – Shared responsibilities/offices – Number of stakeholders – Physical distance between systems Constantly evolving program
    7. 7. What are systems?How did we view system boundaries in the Bridge Program?HOW CAN SYSTEMS BEAPPLIED TO THE BRIDGEPROGRAM?
    8. 8. Systems & Boundaries In general, a system is a, “complex whole of related parts” (Cabrera)In evaluation:• What is the program? What is it not?• What are the parts of the program?• How do these parts relate to one another & the program as a whole?• Conscious recognition of these elements is key
    9. 9. The Focus Acknowledging & understanding theinterrelations among program elements as well as between the program & external forces.
    10. 10. Key Systems in the Bridge ProgramUT-PSCC Bridge Program TN Legislature UT PSCC
    11. 11. A Closer Look UT-PSCC Bridge Program Pellissippi The State University of Program Community Tennessee Admin. College Student Admissions Academic Success Affairs Center Billing/1stYr. Student Financial Campus CampusStudies Activities Aid A B Marketing/College College Comm. A B Advising/ Campus Campus Orientation A B Faculty Faculty Housing/ Dept Dept Student A B Services
    12. 12. One Step Deeper• Within the program are The University of Tennessee two university systems• Within each university there are multiple administrative divisions Division of Student Life• Within each division there are individual offices University Housing• Finally, within each office there are numerous stakeholders who are responsible for Executive providing services. Director
    13. 13. What is isomorphism?How did we apply isomorphism to the Bridge Program?HOW CAN ISOMORPHISM ANDBOUNDARIES BE APPLIED TOTHE BRIDGE PROGRAM?
    14. 14. Isomorphism• Etymology – Iso = “equal” and Morphosis = “to form”• Mathematics – 1:1 correspondence between two mathematical sets so that operations cause the same result for each set• Biology – Similarity in form, despite different ancestry
    15. 15. Isomorphism• “Recursive replication” of processes and content (Liddle & Saba, 1983)• “Overlay of overlays” with philosophy and theory (Liddle, 1988)• Categories with different content, but similar form, have corresponding parts and processes (Hofstadter, 1979)• Repetitive or similar patterns, translation of models and principles, identical structure and process, interventions, behaviors (White & Russell, 1997)• Unconscious phenomenon that plays an integral role in understanding relationships between systems (Bernard & Goodyear, 2004; Gentry, 1986; Williams, 1997)
    16. 16. Awareness of IsomorphismEvaluators can better understand: – The similarities and overlap between systems – The interdependency between system – Corresponding parts of different systems – How changes and occurrences in one system exact change in another system
    17. 17. Isomorphism & the Bridge Program UT-PSCC Bridge Program Pellissippi The State University of Program Community Tennessee Admin. College Student Admissions Academic Success Affairs Center Billing/1stYr. Student Financial Campus CampusStudies Activities Aid A B Marketing/College College Comm. A B Advising/ Campus Campus Orientation A B Faculty Faculty Housing/ Dept Dept Student A B Services
    18. 18. Implications for future evaluationsISOMORPHISM,BOUNDARIES, ANDEVALUATOR COMPETENCY
    19. 19. Implications for Future EvaluationsIncorporating both Isomorphism andsystems thinking enhances the evaluator’sability to… 1. Visualize and understand program structure 2. Anticipate conflict, difficulties, and/or ethical dilemmas 3. Engage in reflective practice using past evaluation experiences as part of promoting professional development
    20. 20. QUESTIONS?

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