Project managers Project managers

The second Online Discussion Event for project managers takes place on 7-9 November 2012 and will be moderated by Marisa Hernández. During the three day event the participating project managers are invited to discuss which European and national science education project results they have knowledge of. The issue of impact in educational practice or effectiveness of dissemination methods will be further discussed.

Bellow you find a summary of the themes we will discuss each day of the event.

Day 1
The first day will focus on the STEM education projects about which the participating project managers have had some information or involvement in order to share experiences on dissemination strategies of certain projects.

Day 2
On the second day, project managers will be asked to explain the perceived impact of specific projects and the way they use the results of previous projects.

Day 3
The last day project managers are invited to reflect on the needs of each target audience concerning dissemination and  to exchange ideas about how to make project results not only available but also more understandable and usable to help each target audience apply these results in practice efficiently.

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Meet the expert Meet the expert

Marisa HernandezMarisa Hernandez is a research assistant and member of the Executive Board of the Centre for Research in Science and Mathematics Education (CRECIM) of the Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona, Spain. She  has a BA in Physics and PhD in Science Education.

With a staff of 9 full-time employees, 5 part-time secondary school teachers, and 3 PhD students, CRECIM manages a number of national projects and local initiatives on science and technology education. They cover a broad range of topics, from digital classrooms in science lessons (ADIGIC) and technology enhanced science learning for children in hospital (TEACH); to school-university (REVIR) and school-industry (Prat de la Riba) collaboration.

On the European scene, CRECIM has been actively involved in the management of several EU-funded projects: STISS, IKUITSE, Materials Science, TRACES and ECB/inGenious.

 

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European projects: how do they evaluate their dissemination plans?
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Evaluation of a dissemination plan is required of all funded projects for many reasons:
• for accountability,
• to show the extent to which the expected outcomes have been met,
• to measure change or impact, and
• to help identify and chart out necessary corrections as a project evolves.

Which methods have been applied in projects you know or in which you have participated to evaluate the dissemination plan?
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RE: European projects: how do they evaluate their dissemination plans?
08/11/12 14:45 as a reply to Marisa Hernandez.
Many different indicators can be used to measure the impact of a dissemination plan. These are normally defined by the projects initial goals and targets. They can be qualitative or quantitative. To mention some:
• Achievement, enthusiasm of participants.
• Changes in individuals' understanding of the project outcomes
• Subjective views from individuals. Focus groups.
• Positive changes in approaches to teaching.
• Papers published and cited
• Website statistics
• Involvement of more teachers/schools after the end of the project

Which ones do you find more relevant? And more challenging to measure?
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RE: European projects: how do they evaluate their dissemination plans?
08/11/12 18:07 as a reply to Marisa Hernandez.
Marisa Hernandez:
Many different indicators can be used to measure the impact of a dissemination plan. These are normally defined by the projects initial goals and targets. They can be qualitative or quantitative. To mention some:
• Achievement, enthusiasm of participants.
• Changes in individuals' understanding of the project outcomes
• Subjective views from individuals. Focus groups.
• Positive changes in approaches to teaching.
• Papers published and cited
• Website statistics
• Involvement of more teachers/schools after the end of the project

Which ones do you find more relevant? And more challenging to measure?



From my experience, targets set in dissemination/communication plans are mainly quantitative ones:

• Website statistics
• Involvement of more teachers/schools after the end of the project
• Papers published and cited

The other indicators (Achievement, enthusiasm of participants, changes in individuals' understanding of the project outcomes, change in subjective views from individuals. positive changes in approaches to teaching) are usually set as overall indicators for the project results beyond the dissemiantion in itself.

To give a concrete example, the evalution indicators that were used in the Xplore Health project to assess the impact of the activities in schools were:

- Increase in knowledge, interest and understanding
- Confidence dsicussing the topic
- Learning style and school links
- Relative difficulty, enjoyment and engagement
- Appreciation of the website
Flag Flag
RE: European projects: how do they evaluate their dissemination plans?
08/11/12 18:16 as a reply to Marisa Hernandez.
Marisa Hernandez:
Evaluation of a dissemination plan is required of all funded projects for many reasons:
• for accountability,
• to show the extent to which the expected outcomes have been met,
• to measure change or impact, and
• to help identify and chart out necessary corrections as a project evolves.

Which methods have been applied in projects you know or in which you have participated to evaluate the dissemination plan?


In most projects, the dissemination is evaluated in quantitative terms, numbers of schools, students and teachers involved or reached by the dissemination actions. Another common indicators can be the willingness of teachers to use the resources/methods/tools in the future.

The qualitative impact are more closely linked to the outreach programmes, if we use the terms generally used in EC funded projects.
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RE: European projects: how do they evaluate their dissemination plans?
09/11/12 08:57 as a reply to Marisa Hernandez.
Marisa Hernandez:

• Achievement, enthusiasm of participants.
• Changes in individuals' understanding of the project outcomes
• Subjective views from individuals. Focus groups.
• Positive changes in approaches to teaching.
• Papers published and cited
• Website statistics
• Involvement of more teachers/schools after the end of the project

Which ones do you find more relevant? And more challenging to measure?

In my opinion, involvement of more teachers/schools after the project has ended would be the most relevant.
Participants' enthusiasm would be the most challenging to measure.
Daniela.
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Maite Debry:
The other indicators (Achievement, enthusiasm of participants, changes in individuals' understanding of the project outcomes, change in subjective views from individuals. positive changes in approaches to teaching) are usually set as overall indicators for the project results beyond the dissemiantion in itself.


I agree with you Maite that project outcomes are already evaluated using some of these qualitative indicators. However, according to our stance, dissemination goes beyond making projects' outcomes available. It seems to me that most of the quantitative indicators refer to evaluating how many people are reached. Disseminating also entails facilitating that stakeholders find the outcomes understandable and usable. In this sense, I think we also should evaluate to what extent the dissemination process facilitates these other facets.

For example, we might evaluate positively a dissemination plan which would include actions such as watching over the needs and difficulties of stakeholders concerning dissemination and would develop mechanisms to help them overcome such difficulties.

Do you have other ideas about how to evaluate these facets?
Other opinions on whether we should consider evaluating them?
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Latest posts Latest posts
RE: Thinking of potential stakeholders of project outcomes: What do they ne
09/11/12 12:29
Petr Kaufman:
I'd say that teachers needs and dissemination activities are two separate things. Needs finding should be at the very beginning of the project cycle, dissemination at the end.


Thanks for your contribution, Petr. I will tell you how I see it. I agree with you that we should take into account teachers' needs before starting a project since any funded project is addressed to specific stakeholders' needs or problems. However, although projects' outcomes addressed these needs, the dissemination plan could not take into account aspects as which are the channels that teachers prefer or which characteristics (language, format, length, duration, cost, etc) facilitate teachers' engagement and understanding.

For example, let's say that one project's outcome consisted of a teaching and learning virtual environment with a repository of activitites addressed to facilitate the introduction of socioscientific issues in the science class. Which actions should this project carry out to disseminate these outcomes to a certain number of teachers? In case, the project had a budget for organising face-to-face workshops, which would be a suitable format for helping teachers understand and use this product? And in case the dissemination should be done through online courses?

I consider that there are also some specific needs to take into account when talking about dissemination plans.
RE: Thinking of potential stakeholders of project outcomes: What do they ne
09/11/12 12:01
I'd say that teachers needs and dissemination activities are two separate things. Needs finding should be at the very beginning of the project cycle, dissemination at the end. If your project doesn't address teachers's needs then you can have the most brilliant dissemination plan that reaches every single teacher in Europe, but teachers simply won't use your project results.

In my opinion the steps should be as follows:

1. needs finding, needs assessment, based on that >
2. project proposal, based on that >
3. project execution, based on that >
4. dissemination

The dissemination should always be tailored to the type of products you develop; eg. dissemination of teacher training opportunities would be different from dissemination of learning resources, etc...
Thinking of potential stakeholders of project outcomes: What do they need?
09/11/12 11:00
According to some experts on dissemination, the most successful dissemination strategies will be those that actively engage users and deliver what the users both want and need. Then, ensuring the engagement of potential users in an early consultation exercise to
establish their needs should be an essential part of a project's work. Moreover, the outputs/outcomes of a project should be presented as benefits and solutions to the users.

If we focus on teachers or teachers trainers, who usually are one of the main stakeholders of science education projects, which of their needs do you think should be addressed in order to effectively disseminate project's outcomes to them?