External organisations have conducted independent evaluations of our mentoring programs. These independent evaluations provide an alternative perspective of our programs. This perspective has informed further program development and improved the way evaluations within the organisation are conducted.
So far, three independent evaluations have been conducted: one by a university student in 2015 on I CAN Network’s first school mentoring program, one by Australian Catholic University in 2016-17 on four mentoring programs and one by Australian Council for Educational Research (2021-2022) on I CAN Online.
Their reports can be found below:
ACU’s independent evaluation – I CAN Year 7 transition programs.
“In 2023, I CAN Network commissioned Australian Catholic University (ACU) to conduct an independent evaluation of its year 7 transition programs. The independent evaluation engaged eight former participants plus a supervising teacher from one of the transition programs. The independent evaluation found that the transition programs facilitated a smoother transition to year 7 among participants by 1) creating a safe and open environment, 2) improving psychological readiness for high school, 3) empowering students with practical skills and strategies and 4) fostering confidence and community. The independent evaluation also identified areas of improvement in the transition programs such as setting ground rules for respectful conversations and having facilitators introduce themselves with an “About Me” profile. Overall, I CAN Network’s programs can support a smoother process for year 6 students transitioning to year 7.”
acu 2022 Independent evaluation
In 2022, I CAN Network Ltd. engaged the Research Impact Unit of Australian Catholic University (ACU) to conduct an independent evaluation of I CAN Online and I CAN School mentoring programs in Victoria. Funded by the Victorian Department of Education and Training (VDET), it was the most comprehensive evaluation of I CAN Network’s mentoring programs to date. The independent evaluation found positive results for I CAN Network’s mentoring programs, with mentees experiencing increased sense of belonging and social connectedness, a more positive Autistic identity, and improved self-esteem and sense of hope after the program. These findings informed their recommendation of “…a tangible and time-sensitive expansion of the I CAN Network Mentoring Programs to allow all neurodiverse students the opportunity to access whichever version of the program is most suited to their needs…”. (Jones, S., Lowe, J., Mizzi, S. (2022). Independent Evaluation: I CAN Network Mentoring Programs Final Report 15 December 2022, Australian Catholic University Research Impact Unit).
This independent evaluation was funded by the Victorian Department of Education who have the full report. The Executive Summary included here is available for public distribution.
ART BASED EVALUATION
Mentees make creations to reflect on what they got out of I CAN Network’s mentoring programs. To identify common themes arising from the creations, we hired Sandra Buchanan, an Expressive Arts Therapist, to conduct an arts-based evaluation of I CAN Network’s school and online mentoring programs in Victoria.
In her report, Sandra describes the thought processes of mentees as they made their creations and outlines, from their creations, what mentees got out of the mentoring programs such as feelings of acceptance and sense of belonging. These outcomes, in turn, contribute to their personal growth and empowerment.
Altogether, the arts-based evaluation highlights how:
1) creations can tell a story about the mentoring programs; and
2) findings from the creations can complement what I CAN Network finds in their evaluations.
Click on the button below or image to read the full report and related artwork.