Using theories of action approach to measure impact in an intelligent way: A case study from Ontario Canada

Now, more than ever before, there is an impetus for schools to be more effective for more students. Correspondingly, being able to meaningfully measure impact is vital. At the same time, if innovations have been found to be effective it is reasonable that they should be scaled-up to enable other schools to benefit. It is appropriate, therefore, that in networked and self-improving school systems, we should be attempting to link together approaches for measuring the impact of innovations with the means to enable their wider use. The aim of this paper is to aid such a process by presenting an intelligent framework designed to support both the assessment of impact and the rollout of effective pedagogic approaches. Specifically, the Dialogic Model of Impact (DMI) was designed with the purpose of evaluating the success of Renfrew County Catholic District School Board’s ‘Through their Eyes: Documenting Literacy and Learning in Kindergarten’ approach to teaching and learning. Also, to identify the potential value of ‘Through their Eyes’ for other Ontario school boards. Presented are both the genesis of the model and detail on its application, which draws on interview data from 10 district leaders and principals, and focus groups of 20 teachers. At the same time, the paper illustrates how DMI has general applicability and establishes its use value in terms of measuring the impact of any innovation; also how DMI enables the identification of those component parts of innovations essential to their successful wider adoption across schools and school systems.

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