A formal program evaluation will assess the extent to which the ten-week pilot provides an appropriate model for sustainable university-school partnerships in philosophy education.

The evaluation will explore questions relating to the program objectives, including to what extent the program influenced school students’ engagement; the perceived value of the mentoring relationships to both mentors and school students; and the impact of the university-school partnership on class teachers’ skills and confidence.

Data collected from school students, teachers, university student mentors and the program leadership team will be analysed to assess the impact of the program on all participants.

Evidence from previous studies suggests that the Big Questions program, if implemented over a sufficient time period, will benefit students by promoting improved outcomes across numerous Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS), notably interdisciplinary thinking processes (inquiry, reflection, metacognition, creativity, reasoning, analysing, evaluating) and VELS-identified skills including building social relationships, teamwork, listening, responding, engaging with community, and developing civic knowledge and understanding.

Student outcomes to be measured over the course of the ten-week pilot include the extent to which students develop a disposition towards good thinking; improve their ability to follow a train of thought; give clearer expression to their thoughts and ideas, develop speaking and listening skills; build on each other’s ideas constructively and collaboratively; and critically evaluate claims in a respectful manner.

Student engagement will be measured using indicators such as school attendance and participation, enjoyment of the program, sense of connectedness, attentiveness and self-efficacy.