Evidence and Other Eight-Letter Words: Musings from the National Evaluator

Posted by Bringing Theory to Practice on February 21, 2016

Evidence and Other Eight-Letter Words: Musings from the National Evaluator
Winter 2016 Newsletter

By Ashley Finley, National Evaluator, Bringing Theory to Practice, and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Dominican Experience, Dominican University of California

Sometimes, as BTtoP’s national evaluator, I wish I had a few quick data points I could rattle off when people ask me, “How do you know there’s a link between learning, civic development, and student well-being?” That would be much easier than my usual response of, “Well, that depends on the kind of evidence you want.” The thing is, evidence is a peculiar concept—there never seems to be enough, or the right kind, or the type that’s truly convincing. And yet, everyone still wants it. At Bringing Theory to Practice, we started with a hunch twelve years ago about the relationship between engaged learning, civic development, and well-being. And twelve years later, we’re still gathering the evidence to support that hunch. Because that’s the thing about evidence, or at least the kind required to take on a big, knotty question like, “How do learning, civic development, and well-being intersect?”—you’ll never really have all that you need.


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