MNT-EC Evaluators Recognized Nationally

The Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC) recently celebrated a significant achievement, with three of its evaluators being recognized nationally for their exceptional work. Terryll Bailey, Dr. Jalil Bishop, and Dr. Antar Tichavakunda have been instrumental in shaping the MNT-EC program, providing invaluable insights and recommendations that have helped the center excel in its mission.

Terryll Bailey, the founder and president of The Allison Group, brings over 20 years of experience in workforce development research and evaluation. Her firm specializes in external evaluation for numerous National Science Foundation projects and centers, including the MNT-EC. Bailey’s collaborative approach to evaluation has been crucial in integrating evaluative thinking into the project, focusing on evidence of impact on individuals and organizations.

Dr. Jalil Bishop, a critical qualitative scholar, has expertise in college affordability, student debt, anti-racist policymaking, and the racialized geography of life opportunity. His work on developmental evaluations has been instrumental in shaping the MNT-EC’s approach to equity and inclusion. As the principal investigator of the first national study on Black student debt, Dr. Bishop brings a unique perspective to the evaluation team.

Dr. Antar Tichavakunda, an Assistant Professor of Race and Higher Education at the University of California Santa Barbara, brings a wealth of knowledge in urban education policy. His research on college readiness, Black students’ experiences at predominantly White institutions, and the sociology of race and higher education has been invaluable in shaping the MNT-EC’s approach to diversity and inclusion.

The evaluators’ work has been lauded for its clarity, readability, effective use of visuals, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Their conclusions and actionable recommendations, well-supported by evidence, have been “essential in informing this program and determining best practices to provide internships that most benefit underrepresented students,” Jared Ashcroft, Principal Investigator, said. 

Jared Ashcroft, PI of MNT-EC, acknowledged the value of the evaluation data, stating, “The MNT-EC evaluation data was essential in informing this program and determining best practices to provide internships that most benefit underrepresented students.” 

The evaluators worked closely with the project team, meeting regularly to discuss evaluation matters. This collaboration likely contributed to the thoroughness and accuracy of the report. They adhered to standards developed by the Joint Committee on Educational Standards and Evaluation, ensuring the ethical collection and analysis of data.

“The external evaluators have collected quantitative and qualitative data to bring numbers, context, and color to our Center’s dissemination efforts.” 

⸺ Peter Kazarinoff, Co-PI of MNT-EC

The value of this comprehensive evaluation to a national center like MNT-EC cannot be overstated. It provides a roadmap for the center, highlighting areas of success and identifying opportunities for improvement. “The way the MNT-EC evaluation report was approached, aligned all activities and results within the framework of the evaluation and its design” according to Mel Cossette, Co-PI of MNT-EC. This feedback is crucial for the center to continue evolving and improving its programs. At a foundational level, this means that the center can better serve its students and the community, ensuring that its programs are effective, inclusive, and impactful.

The MNT-EC is deeply grateful for the evaluators’ contributions, which have not only helped shape the center’s program but also enhanced its ongoing work. Their collaborative efforts across different disciplines and outreach programs have been pivotal in increasing the effectiveness of the program. The MNT-EC is proud to acknowledge the exceptional work of these three evaluators and looks forward to continuing its mission of improving technical education at community colleges.

Specific Highlights from the 2022 Annual Evaluation Report 

  1. Website and Social Media Impact: The MNT-EC’s website and social media platforms have been successful in reaching a broad audience. The website’s traffic compares favorably to two mature national centers, averaging 3,738 users and 15,937 page views in its first year. The LinkedIn posts have also improved significantly, leading to increased impressions and interactions (Page 34).
  2. Center Team and Management: The MNT-EC Center Team, including the PI, Co-PIs, working group leads, and experts from partner institutions, meets monthly to establish their annual goals aligned with the center goal. The Executive Team meets weekly, and the center has made significant progress toward its goals this year, identifying gaps and improving productivity (Page 19).
  3. Advocacy for Systemic Change: PI Ashcroft advocates for systemic changes in technical education, emphasizing the need for more impactful start for students, more funded apprenticeships and internships, and long-term coordinated actions toward solutions. The MNT-EC Center is engaging in this advocacy and inviting other organizations to join in this endeavor (Page 36-37).
  4. Focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: The MNT-EC has made a transformational approach to recruiting underrepresented minorities by working with existing student organizations that support underrepresented minorities and bringing the program into their existing framework. Over 90% of the students in the URE program are from underrepresented groups, representing eight community college campuses in five states (Page 37-38). The Talking Technician podcast receives special mention in here on Page 38.

Additional Evaluation Technical Details, from the report narrative, for those who want to know:

Their investigative approaches included objective orientation, teaching/learning process orientation, customer orientation, faculty and institutional support, business and industry support, and management. These approaches provided a complete review of the project, ensuring a comprehensive analysis of the project’s implementation, audience reach, user perceptions, resource usage, and systemic change.

The evaluators used evidence-based data to measure outcomes, employing both quantitative and qualitative data analysis methods. This approach allowed for a more nuanced understanding of the project’s performance. Their commitment to continuous improvement was evident in their plans to evolve assessment practices and understand the effectiveness of the program better.

Download: MNT-EC Evaluation Report 2021-2022

Special thanks to EvaluATE, ATE Evaluation Resource Hub, for its work in educating evaluators, and others, about evaluation best practices. Their Resource Library is filled with webinars, newsletters, blogs, and information about the ATE annual survey. These materials are open-access. EvaluATE is supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number 1841783. This blog post builds partly from their post, linked above on their evaluation award page.