EITM Evaluation

This document offers an evaluation of the EITM Summer Institutes and associated projects from a series of grants to Harvard University, Duke University, and the University of Michigan from 2002 to 2016. This evaluation provides new information and analysis that complements the information provided in yearly reports submitted since 2002.

The EITM projects have provided new educational and research opportunities for hundreds of students and faculty. In its early years, the emphasis was on classroom lectures, the students were almost exclusively male and drawn from a small set of elite institutions. In response to feedback and to spread the benefits of EITM pedagogy, the program has evolved in important ways.

The content of syllabi and activities are more dynamic and participatory. The days are structured to promote students understanding of, and ability to apply, a range of complex analytical methods. Even as EITM has moved to serve more students per year, it has done so in ways that produce more small group activities and more one-on-one mentoring opportunities.

Over the same period EITM has changed its outreach and content to make it more accessible to more students while maintaining the project’s original vision of precision and rigor. EITM now draws students from a broad range of institutions. EITM has also pursued a range of strategies to broaden inclusiveness. Over the last few years, women have outnumbered men as EITM participants and EITM has made important gains in providing innovative research opportunities for members of historically underrepresented groups.

The evaluation’s main emphasis is to document the effect of EITM’s evolving strategies and practices on tangible outcomes, such as improved or more powerful research designs, more effective strategies for teaching complex methodological concepts, and student abilities to contribute to high-value private and public sector decision making contexts. Overall, the EITM alumni are remarkably successful on all counts. However, EITM selects participants based on their likely potential for such success, which makes EITM’s causal impact difficult to observe from reviewing CVs.

For this reason, EITM designed an innovative survey that asks participants to construct counterfactual assessments of how EITM changed the trajectory and content of their research careers. From this design, we learn that over 90% of students cite EITM as having had an important effect on their career. The design also clarifies some of the means by which these effects occurred. Roughly half of the students, for example, cite EITM as the origin of a new collaboration which led to tangible research results. More talk about how EITM’s strategies produce unparalleled networking and mentoring opportunities that changed the trajectory of their careers.

Our inquiry also entails a substantial qualitative component. We asked participants and outside observers to comment on how EITM has affected their careers and the field as a whole. We received hundreds of responses – all of which are included in appendices to this report. Some students from earlier years request changes to the pedagogy that are consistent with the changes that we have made. Others offer different opinions on EITM’s attempts to diversify the participant base – with some concerned that we have made the materials too accessible. A more common finding, however, is that EITM participation helped students and faculty see research in new ways and helped them to produce more effective theoretical and empirical work for the rest of their careers.

We also asked participants to comment on consequences of different possible futures for the EITM program. Most participants and outside observers see the program as vibrant and see its evolving outlook (including the inclusion of qualitative methods) as a distinct source of innovation and opportunity for political science. Thank you for your consideration.

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