WordFarmers Associates’ leadership combined has over 90 years of teaching, evaluation, research, writing, and federal and state project-management experience (for details see “About Us” or simply Google Aimee or Craig).
The firm has substantial capacity in program evaluation, curriculum development, instructional design, and research.
Program evaluation is WordFarmers’ core work. Multi-year programs funded by state and federal agencies represent substantial investments. Such projects typically allocate 10% or more of their budgets to third-party evaluation. In this role, WFA designs the evaluation with the client, often at the stage of proposal development.
Third-party evaluators act as critical friends during the lifetime of a project. WFA gathers information about all phases of project activity from planning to implementation to reporting to redesign. Our emphasis is formative: ongoing feedback to improve operations and outcomes. WFA evaluations often entail assistance with product development (pilot tests, focus groups, content analysis).
Curriculum Development refers to web-based or print products: publications, in other words, with an instructional purpose. WFA most often creates professional development materials: online modules, books, webinars, and podcasts with a professional audience in view. We have, however, also adapted materials for use by K-12 students.
Instructional Design makes curriculum products accessible. WFA combines video, audio, graphics, and text on web platforms and learning management systems to ensure maximum accessibility to diverse audiences, including those with disabilities. (Accessibility applies broadly to product features that enable people to learn.)
Research aims for peer-reviewed scholarly publication. WFA research projects usually proceed from clients’ interest in an issue pertinent to policy or educational practice: they anticipate that new knowledge will help them advance their objectives. Such an outcome cannot be guaranteed, but studies can be designed to address key questions of policy and practice. WordFarmers’ principals have been nationally published for many decades. Study conceptualization, data collection and analysis methods, and writing proceed from a strong track record.
WordFarmers views evaluation as a specialized form of applied research. Evaluation is systematically skeptical. That’s the research part. The evaluation part is the rendering of judgments about worth—what seems to be working or not, and why or why not. And in WFA’s preferred style of evaluation the findings are communicated in person, from the vantage of critical friend.
Simultaneously, a wider communication can be planned in advance depending on the nature of the work: going public with evidence-based information about the project. This planning includes the protection of human subjects and related approvals as needed.
And we have often realized such plans. The publications listed below are a selection of publicly accessible products arising from our evaluation work. With one exception, all appeared in peer-reviewed research journals.
Howley, A., & Howley, C. (2008). Planning for technology integration: Is the agenda overrated or underappreciated. Educational Planning, 17(1), 1-17.
Howley, A., Chadwick, K., & Howley, C.W. (2002). Networking for the nuts and bolts: The ironies of professional development for rural principals. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 17(3), 171-187.
Howley, A., Dudek, M., Rittenberg, R., & Larson, W. (2014). The development of a valid and reliable instrument for measuring instructional coaching skills. Professional Development in Education, 40(5), 779-801.
Howley, A., Howley, C., Burgess, L., & Pusateri, D. (2008). Social class, Amish culture, and an egalitarian ethos: Case study from a rural school serving Amish children. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 23(3).
Howley, A., Woodrum, A., Burgess, L., & Rhodes, M. (2009). Planning for culturally responsive leadership: Insights from a study of principals in exemplary schools. Educational Planning, 18(3), 12-26.
Howley, C., Howley, A., & Telfer, D. (2017). National provisions for certification and professional preparation in low-incidence sensory disabilities: A 50-state study. American Annals of the Deaf, 162(3), 277-294.
Howley, C., Howley, A., & Telfer, D. (2017). Special education paraprofessionals in district context. Mid-Western Educational Researcher, 29(2), 136-165.
Howley, C., Howley, A., & Yahn, J., VanHorn, P., & Telfer, D. (2019). Inclusive instructional leadership: A quasi-experimental study of a professional development program for principals. Mid-Western Educational Researcher, 31(1), 3-19.
Howley, M., Howley, A., Helfrich, S., Harrison, L., Gillam, M.B., & Safran, J. (2012). A research focused honors program for high-ability teacher-education students. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 35, 319-343. doi: 10.1177/0162353212459687
Telfer, D., Howley, A., & Howley, C. (2017). How the other half teaches. School Administrator, 74(2), 43-45.