Rossman, Gretchen

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Professor Emerita, Department of Educational Policy, Research & Administration
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Dr. Rossman is Professor of Education and Chair of the Department of Educational Policy, Research, and Administration and is associated with the Center for International Education. She served as Visiting Professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and as Visiting Scholar at the University of Hong Kong. Her domestic research interests focus on the close examination of the school- and district-level elements necessary to create collaborative, responsive learning settings. She has conducted multisite studies of systemic change in high schools; of inclusion initiatives for students with disabilities in rural, suburban, and urban districts; and of teachers' roles in systemic reform.
In her international work, she currently serves as Principal Investigator on a sub-contract with AMIDEAST for the Education Reform Project in Palestine. Recent work includes serving as Principal Investigator on an evaluation contract for Twaweza, a Tanzania-based organization; as Co-Principal Investigator on the LIRE project (a multi-grade initiative in Senegal and The Gambia and on the University Partners for Institutional Capacity project in Malawi, as examples. She also serves as International Education’s liaison with agencies who sponsor students from developing countries. In this capacity, she recently traveled to the Republics of Georgia and Kyrgyzstan to interview highly-qualified doctoral applicants.
Gretchen also has strong interests in qualitative research design and methods and has published extensively on qualitative methods, research design, and ethics in inquiry. Her books include The Research Journey: An Introduction to Inquiry (with Sharon Rallis, Guilford Press); Designing Qualitative Research (with Catherine Marshall, Sage, 5th ed.); and Learning in the Field (with Sharon Rallis, Sage, 3rd ed.).
Given these interests, Gretchen has taught courses in introduction to inquiry, qualitative research methods, qualitative research design, and participatory action research methods. Now serving as department chair, Gretchen teaches fewer courses but continues to work closely with doctoral and master’s students. In terms of teaching, Gretchen comments:
"I delight in seeing students grow in confidence and competence. In my courses on research methodology, I try to create learning environments that foster complex reasoning skills and thoughtful decision-making, and build the knowledge and skills that enable students to conduct research competently and ethically. I am intrigued with the growth of students as they inquire about topics or phenomena of interest to them. I hope that they become persistent inquirers into their own lives and those of others - the ultimate goals of social science - and become committed to more socially just organizations and societies. To encourage this learning, I structure my classes to foster the engagement of students with the materials, one another, and their own research interests. My goal is to create learning experiences that are rigorous and involving. Within this structure, there is considerable choice - and with this choice, I elicit students' personal or professional interests as catalysts for their learning. Drawing on personal interest and experience captures the passion that should be present in sustained, thoughtful inquiry into the social world.
"Learning takes place in a number of venues; the classroom is just one. In working with advanced graduate students, I follow the precepts outlined above. Focusing on their interests and commitments, I create a structure for inquiry that is disciplined and rigorous. As we work within these parameters, I have the privilege of seeing students grow in intellectual sophistication and subtle reasoning, as they deepen their understanding of the topics that capture their imaginations. To bear witness to this growth is a privilege, a responsibility, and a calling."
Recent Activities
Gretchen served as co-leader of Section 3, Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research for the annual meetings of AERA for two years from 2007-2009. In 2008, Gretchen B. Rossman was honored as a recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Faculty Member Centennial Award from the Graduate School at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In celebration of a century of scholarship, the Graduate School selected one outstanding faculty member from each school and college in the University to receive the award. According to the Graduate School, Dr. Rossman was selected as an “exemplar of the faculty who provide guidance and mentorship to graduate students through chairs and membership on student thesis and dissertation committees.” The Graduate School noted that Dr. Rossman’s service “provides the backbone of the excellence that is the Graduate School at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.”

Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 13
  • Publication
    Twaweza Independent Evaluation Design
    (2010-01-01) Rossman, Gretchen; Hartwell, Ash
    This document describes the theoretical and conceptual framework for the independent evaluation of Twaweza. It describes and amplifies Twaweza’s theory of change: its key concepts, relationships and assumptions, and on this base articulates the evaluation’s conceptual framework, principles, approaches and methodologies. A fundamental premise informs this work: the perspectives and lived experiences of citizens in East Africa will shape the theory and its evaluation. By implication, this design document provides a starting point (building on the body of previous research on evaluating social change and Twaweza’s work on this) that will be modified and shaped by experience with communities, citizens, institutions, and Twaweza’s partners. This document begins with a brief introduction to the Twaweza initiative and to the goals and purposes of the independent evaluation. It then examines the premises and implications of Twaweza’s theory of social change, understood as a complex, organic system, an ‘ecological’ model, as Twaweza seeks to foment an ‘ecosystem of change’. It places the Twaweza’s strategy of working through established partner institutions to energize citizen agency and action within the context of political, social, and environmental conditions. It also describes the character of state bureaucracies, and the range of their responses to citizen agency, including greater engagement with citizens leading to improvement in the reach and quality of public services: water/sanitation, health, and education. This overview of the theory of social change, including its key concepts and processes, provides the basis for describing key questions and hypotheses, and the independent evaluation principles and methodology. Details on the evaluation design include key evaluation questions; implementation; components; approaches and methodologies; concluding with a discussion of strategies for communicating and disseminating evaluation elements and findings. This body of the document ends with matrices mapping key concepts onto methodologies (Table 1); linking methodologies, sampling, and timing (Table 2); and preliminary indicators of key concepts (Table 3).
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    Critical Inquiry and Use as Action. The Expanding Scope of Evaluation Use
    (2000-01-01) Rossman, Gretchen; Rallis, S. F
    A conception of evaluation as learning focuses attention on the critical inquiry cycle that incorporates use throughout the evaluation process.
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    Twaweza Independent Evaluation Overview of Baseline and Other Surveys
    (2010-01-01) Rossman, Gretchen
    As stipulated in the independent evaluation contract, CIE will implement baseline surveys at households, facilities (schools, health clinics), and communities using national randomly-selected samples in all three countries. These will be followed up in 2012 with a targeted micro-survey and then with full national-level random administrations in late 2013 or early 2014. The rationale for the baseline surveys and the subsequent full follow-up survey administrations is to measure change along key variables over time. The rationale for the mid-term micro-survey is to measure targeted change, using the full baseline study (including case studies) as a guide. Given the key evaluation questions to be addressed, the baseline surveys need to establish 1) citizens’ knowledge about government provision of the basic services of education, health, water; 2) baseline conditions in schools, health facilities, and communities (quality of service); 2) citizens’ access to and use of information channels and media; 4) self-perceptions and indicators of agency and action; and 5) test emerging and intriguing hypotheses. For each broad purpose, establishing what is known at this point enables assessments of change over time. Thus, the overall design of the evaluation calls for follow-up randomized national-level surveys in Year 5 to assess changes and to test the same and new hypotheses. Obviously, baseline surveys are designed to establish initial conditions against which effects or changes can be compared.
  • Publication
    Plan for the Use of Findings for Decision-making and Refinement of Program
    (1999) Evans, David R.; Rossman, Gretchen; Sahni, Urvashi
    The project, Strengthening the Education of Girls in India, was designed in 1995 through a collaborative effort of USAID officials and Indian nationals who are experts in girls' and women's education. In the three and one-half years since the project was designed, changes have occurred in the climate of support for and thinking about girls' education in India generally and the state of Uttar Pradesh specifically. this document describes salient elements of that changing context and discusses how the project will respond to them. The document also describes how findings thus far from project implementation will shape refinement of the project.
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    Twaweza Independent Evaluation Overview of Case Studies
    (2010-01-01) Lauridsen, Mikala; Ochiel, Martina; Rossman, Gretchen
    As the independent evaluator, CIE is charged with four primary goals: 1) verification of Twaweza’s outputs; 2) identification of outcomes/effects; 3) analysis of the relation between outputs and outcomes/effects; and 4) review of the appropriateness of Twaweza’s theory of change. A secondary goal is to contribute to Twaweza’s learning and communications processes by making rigorous analyses which invite probing questions and discussions available on a regular basis to the Learning & Communications Team. This is often referred to as ‘formative evaluation’, although that concept trivializes the depth of interaction and supported questioning that Twaweza is committed to. These analyses and discussions will focus on ‘what is working well’, on ‘what needs re-positioning or re-calibrating’, and on ‘what is just not working at all.’
  • Publication
    Preliminary Program Effects on Girls' Enrollment and Classroom Learning Environments
    (1999) Evans, David R.; Rossman, Gretchen; Sahni, Urvashi
  • Publication
    Evaluating 'Twaweza' Presentation
    (2010-01-01) Rossman, Gretchen; Hartwell, Ash
    Presentation at the Comparative & International Education Society meetings March 3, 2010, Chicago, IL The Center for International Education (CIE) was awarded a contract to serve as the independent evaluation entity for the Twaweza initiative based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Twaweza ("we can make it happen" in Swahili) is a ten-year initiative, funded by the Dutch development organizations Hivos and SNV and other donors. Its overall goal is to foster citizen-driven change and to empower East African citizens (inTanzania,Kenya, andUganda) to advocate for access to and the quality of basic services (particularly basic education, clean water, and health services).
  • Publication
    Baseline Study - Part III
    (1999) Evans, David R.; Rossman, Gretchen; Sahni, Urvashi
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    Unpacking Twaweza's Theory of Social Change: Citizen Agency, Information, Accountability, and Basic Services
    (2010-01-01) Miller, Ethan; Hartwell, Ash; Rossman, Gretchen
    The purpose of this paper is to define the key concepts – and links between them – of Twaweza’s Theory of Social Change. These are the notions of citizen-driven change, citizen agency, information, monitoring and accountability, and basic services. The analysis shows ambiguities and, at times, conflicting working definitions in Twaweza’s use of these terms in its major public documents. We then integrate relevant scholarship to elaborate these central ideas and to pose questions that Twaweza may engage with in the spirit of its claims to be a “learning organization.”