Evaluation of Navajo Nation Math Circles

The Navajo Nation Math Circles team hopes to conduct evaluation of the project in the future. We wish to do so for several reasons:

  1. To learn what students, teachers, and community members think of the project
  2. To understand how to improve the project
  3. To study whether and how effective Math Circles are
  4. To communicate results to project funders so that its reach can extend to other communities

This year, evaluators from ICF (an external evaluation consultant) in partnership with the Navajo Nation Math Circles team are seeking permission from agency councils, schools, parents, and the Navajo Nation Human Research Review Board to conduct evaluation of the project. If we get agreement from all involved, we may start the evaluation with our summer camp in July. Otherwise, we hope to start in the 2018 – 19 academic year.

Participation in evaluation will never be mandatory; no one will ever be pressured to be involved, and if an agency council, school, or other entity does not want us to conduct evaluation there, we will not do so. All parents/guardians of students invited to participate in evaluation of the project will be provided an opportunity to give or decline permission for their child to participate. If any parent/guardian declines permission, their child will not be asked to participate in any evaluation data collection activity. Yet their child will be welcome to participate in any of our programs.

The evaluation includes several data collection methods, described below. In addition, some sample questions are included so community members can see the topics we will ask about.

  • Student surveys measure how students feel about math and their ability to solve difficult math problems. Students will be asked to rate how much they agree with statements like the ones below.
    • I really like mathematics.
    • It makes me nervous to even think about having to do a mathematics problem.
    • I see myself as someone who can solve math problems.
  • Student talking circles will invite students to discuss their experiences solving math problems during Math Circles. Talking circle facilitators will ask students questions like these.
    • What happens during a Math Circle?
    • What do you like best about Math Circles? What do you like least about Math Circles?
    • Do you think being in Math Circles will help you with the math you do at school? How could it help?
  • Teacher surveys ask teachers about their experiences with Math Circles, and how those experiences do or do not affect the way they teach math. Teachers will be asked to rate how much they agree with statements like the ones here.
    • Because I have participated in Math Circles, I understand more connections between different areas of mathematics.
    • Because I have participated in Math Circles, I give students more opportunities to solve problems.
    • I am more confident of my overall ability to understand and teach math.
  • Teacher talking circles will invite teachers to describe their experiences participating in and learning to lead Math Circles. Teachers will asked questions like the ones below.
    • What do you like most about Math Circles? What do you like least? How would you improve Math Circles?
    • What changes, if any, have you personally experienced in terms of your knowledge, confidence, or instructional practices as a teacher?
    • Do you think taking part in Math Circles will help you teach your students more effectively? How will it help?
  • Parent talking circles will invite parents to discuss their child’s experiences with math and Math Circles, using questions like these.
    • What are your impressions of what happens during Math Circles?
    • Does the math your child does in Math Circles differ from the math in school? If yes, how is it different?
    • What changes have you observed in your child’s math knowledge, confidence, or habits as a student after participating in Math Circles?
  • Math Circles observations will help evaluators learn how Math Circles work. Evaluators will take notes during observations on topics such as these.
    • What math problem is being solved during the Math Circle?
    • How is Navajo culture, language, or history integrated into the Math Circle?
    • How does the teacher facilitate the Math Circle?

If you have any questions or concerns about this proposed evaluation, please do not hesitate to contact us!

You may send email to navajomath@gmail.com