Investigating educational issues across Europe (ACROSS Base)
Proceedings of ECER 2003 Roundtable on methodological approaches in European projects


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Model for evaluating re-integrative activities
(see Figure B )

Issues for discussion


In two other projects dealing with re-integration schemes (RE-ENTER; RE-INTEGRATION) you have created a particular model for evaluating re-integrative activities: how does this model function?

Anja Heikkinen

If I compare first this RE-INTEGRATION project to GENDERQUAL: The difference between these two was that in GENDERQUAL we were not involved or engaged in the pedagogical activity, so we were looking at it from a distance, we were observing what was going on; while in RE-INTEGRATION it was more an inclusive approach, an interventory approach, where we are following the programmes or the activities which are aiming at re-integration of students or youngsters in vocational education and training. So we were working with the programme actors and observing and participating in the programme activities. In that sense we were not outsiders, but we were part of the process. That was a big difference in the RE-INTEGRATION project. Of course that was happening to a different extent in part of the countries; I have to admit that all were not so deeply involved in this interventory activity.

What would I say about the model? The idea was similar to GENDEQUAL: We didn't want to close the definition of 're-integration'; it was very much a Germany oriented project - what is meant by re-integration. But because we were participating in the action we thought that it was most important to question the activity itself. Re-integration is something exceptional, it's a question of not being normal, not being mainstream; it means defining something as deviant, something which is not fitting to the norm, which doesn't get into the mainstream pathways of education and training and learning. Therefore, what are the criteria for being deviant, for calling some activity as re-integration activity; and a crucial point - how do you do that? 

We cannot just go and define 're-integration' ourselves. That's why the starting point was that in order to evaluate that activity we had to collaborate with the actors to define what that activity is. In a way it was a processual model of evaluation which was developed together with the actors. So there was a programme - in our case it was activity -, there were actors - these tutors, teachers, supervisors whatever, and these learners, youngsters of certain age. They were starting their activity and they were defining it in different ways. But it was happening in some context, so it was something which was changing all the time. How do you evaluate something which is changing? These programmes are often project funded or they are temporary, because if they aren't good programmes in fact they should disappear. So when we were looking at this dynamic activity which doesn't maintain its identity or characteristics - how do we identify what this activity is about? 

The learners and the educators are the key actors defining this activity. But it is happening in a context of educational and economic structures. When we started evaluating this activity we had to look for the criteria of the goodness or the relevance of it from the side of the learners and the educators. We were finding out from them what they understood by such concepts as inclusiveness, and how they see it in a vocational school or institute, in the local labour market or local employment system. So the evaluation criteria were not set by ourselves, but in a processual way together with the changing activity and the changing decisions and solutions which the actors themselves are implementing. But we were not innocent outsiders, but part of the process. 


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