Evaluation Events in Latvia

IDEA NL and seven of its members have developed and implemented an evaluation project: From Measuring to Learning: The Impact of Debate Education on Critical Thinking and Democratic Values over the past two years. This included a year-long trajectory of following high school students who debated in eight countries and comparing them with high school students who did not.

On the basis of this project, each partner has also presented and discussed the evaluation process and practice, the preliminary findings and lessons learned from the project in national dissemination and training events. Our Latvian partner Debate Center, presented the results in two dissemination events, one on October 5 in Riga, one on November 12 in Iecava and one on January 28-29 in Ziemupe. In addition, they held a training in the methodology of evaluations for interested partners and teachers in the latter city in July.

The study found that debaters on average show higher levels of critical thinking and tolerance towards diversity. The dissemination event in Riga attracted NGO representatives and journalists and focused on the first results and their implications for future NGO policy. The general conclusion was that the methodology was sound, even if dropout rates between the first and the last study were high. The eighteen participants then discussed ways to use this results to promote further development of critical thinking skills through better connections between NGOs, promotion among schools and teachers and talks with the Ministry of Education. The second event, with 21 participants in Iecava, followed a similar pattern. It was aimed at students, school representatives and local authorities, and further discussed future steps.

The dissemination event in Ziemupe was both a training and a discussion meeting. There were eleven participants of various backgrounds, including members of the Student Council, a marketing manager, university representatives, school principals and members of Liepaja Council. The first day consisted of background into debate, including a practice debate, and the evaluation project. The next day consisted of a detailed processing of the evaluation project and the choices made in terms of methodology. The group then developed their own conclusions on the basis of the material from the research and gave advice on how to share the results. They discussed ways to further promote debate, for example by inviting retired teachers to re-enter debate programs, and re-establishing cooperation with universities and establishing debate clubs for alumni. Similar research was considered feasible for other NGOs and the results were relevant to them.

The events were made possible with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


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