MA Policy Analysis and Evaluation Alumni

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A COMPELLING CLASS SEEN THROUGH THE EYES OF PROFESSOR AND STUDENT

(1979)

Class of 1996-97

Melissa Determan

Graduate student

 

 

 

My introduction to David Fetterman's infectious enthusiasm for technology began last August,when my fiancé and I flew down from Washington State to visit the campus. Five minutes into the meeting and realizing that we would be living in separate states, Professor Fetterman, my program adviser for education policy and evaluation, gave us an article he had written on CU-SeeMe, a free Internet video conferencing program. Before long he was demonstrating how to use the camera and explaining to us that we could make our own home pages and communicate with each other.

I had never been very excited about computers. The whole process was too overwhelming - brain overload! I just stuck to my word processing and e-mail and I was content.

However, I soon realized Professor Fetterman's goal for his students was to take us beyond our comfort zone. We spent our first session setting up e-mail accounts and learning how to access them from home. We spent the next few weeks "surfing the net." He posted a variety of links to his home page, and we were able to look at pieces of art from the Louvre as well as find people's addresses in a national directory. We also became comfortable using e-mail and listservs - a form of electronic discussion groups - as tools for our research projects.

Once the e-mail and Internet were mastered, Professor Fetterman introduced us to html codes, or hypertext markup language: We were ready to start our own home pages. I was not looking forward to it, but I hoped for the best. Today I cannot imagine how I managed before and realize how much easier the home page program has made our lives.

The Internet has become indispensable to be informed for class discussions. When we studied Ebonics and national standards we looked at reports in the media on the Web. Similarly, our discussion of national standards was grounded in the Department of Education's web pages.

One of Professor Fetterman's web pages links us to a variety of professional associations in education and evaluation, including the American Education Research Association and the American Evaluation Association (AEA). In addition, his web pages in evaluation link us to professional listservs, including the AEA's listserv, the collaborative participatory and empowerment listserv, as well as research corporations and clearinghouses.

Our last project has been posting messages in the virtual classroom on the Internet. There we can post messages and thoughts on a given subject. It can be accessed immediately by anyone in the class. This is useful because it keeps the messages all in one folder.

Professor Fetterman has dedicated himself to making his students successful and he realizes one way to do that is to teach us about technology. We have become more marketable with our knowledge of home pages and we have the world at our fingertips with the click of a mouse.

While I have learned a lot about technology this year, I feel I have learned more about myself. I have learned to venture out of my comfort zone, not only with computers, but also in discussions in class and with friends.

Consulting Professor of Education

David M. Fetterman

Director of the M.A. Policy Analysis and Evaluation Program, School of Education

 

I have become passionate about the power of technology to help transcend traditional boundaries of time and space in the classroom. As a tool, technology can enhance the quality of education. I also believe that it is incumbent upon educators to make educational technology accessible to students.

 

A few years ago it became clear to me that being able to work comfortably in this area adds extraordinary luster to a student's resume and is another critical skill desired by employers.

Such a belief became one of the bases to create the Policy Analysis and Evaluation Program six years ago.

From day one I encourage my students to immerse themselves not only in the current policy issues such as Ebonics, national standards, systemic reform and educational technology but also in the technology that will enable them to understand these and other educational policies in a more efficient way.

I ask my students to conceptualize the program as a three-level chess game. The first level focuses on content, such as policy analysis and evaluation matters. The second level is technology, and the third level is jobs.

The School of Education's M.A. Policy Analysis and Evaluation Program is designed to produce

literate consumers of educational policy and evaluation material. As policy analysts, they learn about the pros and cons of specific policies, and as evaluators, they learn how to determine the quality, value, and cost-benefit of these policies and programs, provide a measure of accountability and accumulate knowledge about public policies over time.

During their tenure in the program, the students conduct evaluations of, among others, the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Pediatrics Curriculum, the San Francisco Peer Resources Program, the Stanford Teacher Education Program and the Stanford Women's Center. This hands-on approach helps them internalize basic evaluation practices and principles. We bring evaluation clients into the classroom to discuss their needs and interests, the feasibility of a given design, ethical considerations, and reporting and dissemination practices. The classroom becomes a living laboratory in which to explore educational policy and put evaluation theories and techniques into practice.

Technology is an important resource for any student but it is not valuable in a vacuum. Teaching about educational technology within the context of a discipline is sound pedagogy. In our program, it is an indispensable tool to achieve our outcome and underlies much of what we do.

We begin by mastering the basics of e-mail, listservs and surfing the net. E-mail enables us to communicate outside the classroom during virtual office hours and links us to colleagues and resources outside the school and the university. Listservs or classroom distribution lists are another venue for meaningful dialogue outside the classroom. We share conversation, notices about schedule changes and employment opportunities.

 

Surfing the Internet is a qualitative leap beyond e-mail and listservs. The information available is enormous. We learn first how to find the most useful sites, then assess the quality of what we've found, and finally learn what to do with the information. Each student thus begins a transition from being a consumer to a creator of knowledge.

They also learn to create their own home pages to post what they have learned and created on the web. It is a metaphor for the transformation we make in the program from learning about policy and evaluation to shaping policy and conducting evaluations. To top it all, we have our own virtual classroom on the Internet where students post their assignments and allow peers to post their thoughts about each other's work.

The third level of the chess game, jobs, is complete by the end of the year, when policy analysts and evaluators visit the class to share their work. During this period, students participate in discussions of relevant topics and concerns, share e-mail addresses and databases with our guest speakers, and secure interviews and employment. E-mail is also an instrumental link to prospective employers.

A recent e-mail from a current student confirms the power of these tools in the transition from school to work: "I now work part-time for WestEd. They asked me, 'Do you do home pages?'

We pulled mine up and they hired me on the spot. You're right!"

Stanford  Today

A Publication of the Stanford Alumni Association

July/August 1997

Learning Curve