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Funding for Environmental Education Available

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) just released its 2016 Environmental Literacy Grant opportunity. The funding is intended for innovative projects that “strengthen the public’s and/or K-12 students’ environmental literacy to enable informed decision-making necessary for community resilience to extreme weather events and other environmental hazards.” The opportunity requires an evaluator to examine the outcomes of each project, in terms of the attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behaviors of the target audience. Hezel Associates is available to apply our existing STEM education evaluation expertise to these projects. Please contact us if you are looking for an evaluator. NOAA will be sure to get several exciting environmental education proposals, we hope to be a part of these efforts!


Hezel Associates Evaluates Noyce Northeast Regional Conferences

SUNY Cortland, in conjunction with Drexel University and the University of Massachusetts Boston, organized and hosted three annual conferences for Noyce Scholars, Fellows, and faculty in the Northeast region. The conferences were designed to bring together individuals participating in the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, which is an NSF-funded program designed to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors to become K-12 teachers.

The Noyce Northeast Regional Conferences, held in 2013, 2014, and 2015, focused on providing a platform for pre- and in-service teachers to learn about best practices in STEM teaching methods and develop STEM content knowledge. Themes allowed for discussion of specific theme-related content, while also offering general STEM teaching professional development.

Evaluation occurred at the time of each event, and explored attendees’ attitudes toward and perceptions of their experience. These data were useful for understanding immediate outcomes; however, no longer-term information was collected. This current study, being conducted by Hezel Associates, is designed to collect new data from participants, as well as integrate previously collected evaluation data into the analysis.


Conclusion of NSC Marks End of TAACCCT Round 1 Grant

The first round of US Department of Labor (USDOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) projects recently came to an end. Hezel Associates served as the Round 1 external evaluator for the National STEM Consortium (NSC). This 10-community college, nine-state partnership developed five 1-year certificate programs in STEM fields: (a) Composites, (b) Cyber Technology, (c) Electric Vehicle Technology, (d) Environmental Technology, and (e) Mechatronics. Based on evaluation findings, this project was overwhelmingly successful, with over 1,300 participants (some still enrolled) and over 600 completers. Student program retention (approximately 82%) was typically much greater than the average for each institution. Student employment after completing a program has also been high; some program coordinators cited 70-100% placement!

Hezel Associates’ evaluation activities helped to inform program coordinators of progress and perceptions of grant stakeholders, such as students and employer partners. Our frequent feedback provided NSC with the knowledge to make adjustments as necessary and to recognize what was working well. Our work culminated in three useful products, available on Skills Commons, the USDOL repository for all TAACCCT curricula and supporting materials:

1. A comprehensive evaluation report. This discusses NSC’s entire project and the evaluation findings from all four project years.
2. A report on the NSC educational model. This is a summary of further research, conducted by Hezel Associates, into specific components of programs, including (a) block scheduling, (b) cohort enrollment, (c) compressed program schedule, (d) employer linkages, (e) hybrid delivery, (f) navigator services (one-on-one program-specific advising), and (g) contextualized online remediation coursework.
3. Retention-Revenue Calculator. A cost analysis tool that can show the relation between student retention and tuition revenue for an institution. This has allowed program coordinators to make the case that the programs could be sustained or scaled up when talking to administrators at their institutions. This tool is an Excel spreadsheet, with instructions and color-coding to help anyone use it.

The NSC has made considerable contributions to STEM training in community colleges, and Hezel Associates is grateful to have had the opportunity to help tell their story.

Read Hezel Associates' comprehensive evaluation report here: pdfHezelAssoc_NSCFinalEvaluationReport.pdf


Hezel Associates Goes to AEA!

The American Evaluation Association (AEA; www.eval.org) is hosting their annual meeting in Chicago November 9-14! Conference participants will have the opportunity to learn about exemplary evaluations, enabling evaluation environments, evaluation policies, evaluation theories and methods, and research on evaluation from a range of cultures and regions throughout the world. Hezel Associates is proud to be sending three evaluators to this
prestigious conference: Dr. Kirk Knestis, Sarah (Stewart) Singer, and Caitlin Griffin. All three will not only be attending the conference but will also be presenting and contributing.

KK-webDr. Knestis (bio) will be participating in two concurrent sessions. At his first session, he will be presenting a model integrating two crucial functions, often difficult to untangle for grant-funded STEM education projects: research to support iterative development of a program or learning innovation, and external program evaluation to assess implementation and impact of grant-supported activities.

An Integrated R&D and Evaluation Approach for Grant-Funded STEM Education Projects
Session Number: 1746
First Author or Discussion Group Leader: Kirk Knestis
Time: Nov 12, 2015 (11:00 AM - 11:45 AM) CST
Room: Roosevelt

During the second session, he will be part of a panel that features evaluation practitioners sharing theory-driven evaluation science (TDES) successes and lessons learned. The three panelist will each share a story of what, how, and why he/she used TDES and the impact of using TDES. Specifically, Dr. Knestis will describe our team’s work with a complex National Science Foundation STEM learning research & development project.

Theory-Driven Evaluation Science Exemplars: Stories from the Field
Session Number: 2299
Session Chair: Karen Jackson [Custom Evaluation Services]
Discussant: Karen Jackson [Custom Evaluation Services]
Presenter 1: Kirk Knestis [Hezel Associates, LLC]
Presenter 2: Charles H Gasper [TCC Group]
Presenter 3: Veronica S. Smith, MSEE [data2insight LLC]

Stewart-webTime: Nov 13, 2015 (08:00 AM - 09:30 AM) CST

Room: Columbus G

Ms. Singer (bio) and Ms. Griffin (bio) will host a roundtable discussion about the inclusion of return on investment outcomes in evaluation of higher education programs. The goal of this session is to share experiences and resources to assist interested evaluators in expanding their skill set in cost analysis methods.

Return on Investment: Can We Provide a New Perspective for Education Impact Evaluations?
Session Number: 1273

Author or Discussion Group Leader: Caitlin Griffin & Sarah Stewart
Time: Nov 12, 2015 (11:00 AM - 11:45 AM) CST
Room: Stetson A


TCI Featured Evaluator Sarah Stewart Shares Retention-Revenue Calculator

Stewart-webSarah (Stewart) Singer (bio) has been featured in the Transformative Change Initiative’s (TCI) new Featured Evaluator blog. The TCI community of evaluators has a wealth of knowledge, experience, and insights into evaluation of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) grants being implementation throughout the United States. The blog post discusses her development of the Retention-Revenue Calculator, a cost analysis tool for the National STEM Consortium (NSC) Round 1 project.

Click here to learn more: http://goo.gl/fb/03HfFX


Evaluation’s Role in Retention and Cultural Diversity in STEM

Stewart-webOur very own Sarah Singer (bio) shared her thoughts on retention and cultural diversity in the STEM field in the EvaluATE blog. She recently attended the Building Pathways and Partnerships in STEM for a Global Network conference, hosted by the State University of New York (SUNY) system and learned about new practices being used by higher education faculty and staff to encourage students, particularly students in groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM, to stay enrolled and get their degrees.

Click here to read how evaluators may want to consider this cultural trend when analyzing data: http://www.evalu-ate.org/blog/singer-oct2015/


Hezel Associates Welcomes Dr. Assunta Hardy to the Team

Hardy1-webHezel Associates welcomes Dr. Assunta Hardy to the team as a Senior Research Associate. In her new role with the company she supports methodological rigor and quality assurance by providing leadership related to research design and analysis for applied research and program evaluation projects. Prior to joining Hezel Associates, Dr. Hardy provided leadership and technical assistance in the area of student assessment for a variety of projects at both Dixie State University and Brigham Young University. 

Learn more about our newest team member here: http://tiny.cc/rbp24x


Pat Fiorenza visits CNY geological sites for SU EMPOWER Program

Syracuse University was recently awarded a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support a new graduate level science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) training program, the Education Model Program on Water-Energy Research (EMPOWER). This program will create an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to STEM training, providing graduate level students with the necessary skills needed to enter the workforce in an area of national priority. Syracuse was just one of eight nationally to win the NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) funding by NSF.

As part of the program, Syracuse University EMPOWER staff have created an Executive Advisory Fiorenza2-webCommittee (EAC), which includes leaders in the STEM field. Throughout the grant, the EAC will be assisting the University to create cutting-edge curriculum and research projects for students. Last week, as part of their program activities, the EAC was on campus to discuss early stages of the EMPOWER program, have preliminary discussions about current trends in STEM, and to meet with students. Hezel Associates’ Pat Fiorenza joined the EMPOWER team for the two-day kick-off event, which included a field trip to three geological sites in Central New York. The sites included visiting a quarry, which exposed certain portions of the Marcellus Formation. The Marcellus Formation has been the subject of many policy and environmental debates, as the Marcellus Formation extends across much of the East Coast, and contains potential untapped natural gas reservoirs.

The field trip gave students the chance to see real world examples of what they were learning in the classroom. Later in the day, Kevin Bohacs, a senior research scientist at ExxonMobil and EAC member, taught a short course on mudrocks, closing the loop on the day for the students. Although early in the program, the connection with experts, linking with students, and the ability to connect field and in-course work shows promising signs of re-thinking how we train STEM professionals.

To find out more about this project visit these websites: