Sunday, 2 March 2008

Evaluation is.......

...a thoughtful consideration of events which can inform future events for the better.

In my experience evaluation is...... a department meeting and a rushed report based on empirical observations by teachers and a review of course results and student responses to a tick box questionnaire! Better than no relection at all, but not always satisfactory.

Evaluation is important in all learning - to enable all students to learn effectively the teacher must be aware of what works and what doesn't. eLearning also has the additional issues that resources are often costly to produce and teachers need to be sufficiently trained to deliver them.

There are so many variables in education that it's improtant to reflect. It's important to know that you're on the right track. What might work with one group or individual may not work with others. What might seem a good idea may not in hindsight be appropriate. Also, it's important to find out what works well so that best practice can be used/shared for future learning.

In teaching I have experienced the following types of evaluation activity:

  • Lesson observations - by peers, by line managers and by external inspectors
  • Student surveys at the mid-point and end of courses
  • Team meetings between course leaders and teachers
  • During external inspections - focus groups with students
  • Moderation of learning and assessment materials
After watching Bronwyn's presentation, and with Flight of the Concords playing in the background (very funny btw), I had an idea for an evaluation project. The college I worked at for 8 years, and where I now do some supply teaching, introduced Moodle a couple of years ago and it would be interesting to see what the impact on learning has been. Some departments use the facilities of Moodle more than others, so it may be a useful exercise to evaluate the effectiveness of its use - useful to me for this course but also useful to the college in judging future development. Next task - find out if they'll let me run a small scale evaluation project!


Hilary said...

Hi Yvonne

Yes, it must be very interesting to be given the opportunity to revisit an organisation and being able to see first hand how new technology has faired (or not as the case may be. In educational environments I think the success of any project is very reliant on the staff and how they embrace the concept. For example, some time ago I attended a meeting at MIT and spoke to a couple of lecturers who refused to use Blackboard as they "could not get on with it" which I thought was such a pity because as a consequence, their students were missing out on all the advantages that online or distance learning could offer them. Incidentally computer studies were taught in this department!


Yvonne said...

Hi Hilary

I know I have come across teachers with the same issues. Mostly they argue it will take more time and they're not prepared to make the effort but often I think this masks a fear of using technology. Or maybe just a fear of change.


Helga said...

And there is also the resource issue. I am afraid that in my organisation, once all the courses are developed, most will just be done and there is hardly no support, let alone time to do proper evaluation....

Yvonne said...

Hi Helga

Evaluation and quality assrance processes are built in but they become a calendar item to tick off - surveys done, exam analysis done therefore evaluation done. Lip service really. It'll be interesting to see if a more thoughtful evaluation produces different results!?!


Lesley said...

Hi Yvonne,
I'll be really interested to hear what the results of your evaluation of moodle. I am really keen to get it set up here and possibly for our UK based training programmes too.

Have a good weekend