What Works, What I Would Like to See Work, and What Pitfalls to Avoid

Norma Dávila
University of Puerto Rico
Evaluation Coordinator of NSF-funded Puerto Rico Statewide Systemic Initiative

I think that the key to successful networks is focus to maintain the interest and motivation of participants to be involved. For instance, clearly defined goals and objectives expedite responses. Stressing commonalities among members and how their differences contribute to strengthen the group promotes frequent contact among them. I would like to see members develop trust so that they can play the role of "critical friends" for each other. As "critical friends," members can support and challenge each other to grow and learn together. I think that one of the most important pitfalls to avoid in networks is related to the size of the network. If the network is too large, only a few members become actively engaged in discussions and conversations. If it is too large, the network can also easily lose its focus because of the wider range of the members' interests. As the network loses focus, members can easily lose interest in participating.