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  1. Evaluation and Assessment Strategies for Web-Based Education Paula Frew, MA, MPH Associate Director of Programs Behavioral Sciences and Health Education Emory University Atlanta, Georgia, USA

  2. Overview • Why Evaluate? • Types of Assessment • Theoretical Framework • Evaluation Research Questions • Methods & Data Collection Strategies • Frew (2001) Formative Evaluation Study of Web-Based Course Initiatives • Additional Resources

  3. Introductions • About us • About the workshop leader • Ice-breaking exercise - getting to know each other

  4. Evaluation Design Framework: A Process Exercise Evaluation Purposes Theory Evaluation Questions Sampling & Data Collection Strategies Methods Adopted from Robson, 2000 (Fig 5.1, p. 80)

  5. Why evaluate? • Evaluation is the systematic acquisition and assessment of information to provide useful feedback about some object (program, technology, activity, etc.) - William Trochim,Cornell University (http://trochim.human.cornell.edu/kb/intreval.htm) • Learner evaluation: Assess worth or quality of learning and instruction in web-based environment (Donald E. Hanna, et al., 2000)

  6. Why Evaluate? • To improve a program/course • Assess outcomes and efficiency - Provide “useful feedback” to administrators, faculty, sponsors, other relevant constituencies. • Find out how a program operates/Understand why a program works (or does not) - May aid in decision-making or policy formulation processes through provision of empirically-driven feedback.

  7. Why evaluate? • Other reasons: • To generate knowledge - assess the academic/applied value which includes topics such as: • Testing theory • Distinguishing types of interventions • Learning about measurements • Developing policy

  8. Why evaluate learners? • To identify content areas that are unclear and confusing • Recognize content areas that need revision • Gather evidence to support revisions • Assess effectiveness of your course • (Hanna, et al., 2000)

  9. Reflective Exercise:Your reasons to evaluate • Workshop exercise - what are your reasons to conduct an evaluation? • Detail specifics related to own experience • Who are your stakeholders? • What is the political dynamic at work? • What is your relationship to the stakeholders and others involved in process? • Conclude exercise: Share with others at workshop

  10. Types of Assessment • Improvement-oriented evaluations: • Formative evaluation - strengthen or improve the object being evaluated* • Scriven (1967) - form or develop programs • Patton (1994) - “developmental evaluation” • Focus on processes - what is going on • Quality-enhancement and continuous improvements • Local adaptation (for different cultures)

  11. Types of Assessment • Knowledge-oriented evaluations: • Effectiveness • Theory-building • Policy making

  12. Types of Assessment • Judgement-oriented evaluations: • Summative evaluation - examine the effects or outcomes of some object* • Robson (2000) - an “end of term report” - what goals have been achieved? • Were needs met, target audiences reached, was program implemented as planned? • Audit: accountability and quality control • Cost-benefit decisions

  13. Program/Technology/Courses: Formative Evaluation Distinctions • Needs assessment - who needs the program, how great is the need, what might work to meet the need? • Structured conceptualization - helps define the program/technology, the target audience, and possible outcomes • Implementation evaluation - monitors the fidelity of the program or technology delivery • Process evaluation - investigates the process of delivering the program or technology, including alternative delivery procedures (Trochim, 1999)

  14. Formative Evaluation: Learning & Instructional Focus • Helps to identify the knowledge and skills learners have gained in the course to date • Allows you to determine whether or not to introduce new content • Gives you feedback on the learners’ learning processes • Signals whether learners need additional practice or work in certain areas • Refocuses the learners’ attention

  15. Program/Technology/Courses: Summative Evaluation Distinctions • Outcomes evaluation - investigate whether the program or technology caused demonstrable effects on specifically defined target outcomes • Impact evaluation - assesses the overall or net effects of a program or technology as a whole • Cost-effectiveness/Cost-benefit analysis - address questions of efficiency by standardizing outcomes in terms of their dollar costs and values • Meta-analysis - integrates the outcomes estimates from multiple studies to arrive at an overall summary judgement on an evaluation question (Trochim, 1999)

  16. Summative Evaluation: Learning & Instruction Focus • Measures what learners have learned • Finalizes decisions about grades • Reviews new knowledge and skills the learners have gained in taking the course.

  17. Reflective Exercise: What type of evaluation do you propose? • Given the perceived need of the stakeholders, what type of evaluation would you pursue? Why? • What challenges do you perceive in conducting this type of evaluation? • What would be gained in doing this type of evaluation? • Exercise conclusion: share with others

  18. Theoretical Framework • 3 Approaches (Patton, 1994) • Deductive Approach - scholarly theory guides inquiry • Inductive Approach - generate theory from fieldwork • User-focused - working with others in evaluation context to extract and specify their implicit theory of action

  19. Theoretical Framework • Deductive Approach Examples: • Diffusion of Innovations Theory (Rogers, 1995) - e.g., examine the adoption of educational innovations in academic settings • Adult Learning Theory (Knowles, 1980) - e.g., how learners acquire their skills, knowledge, understandings, attitudes, values and interests

  20. Reflective Exercise: What Theoretical Approach will you take? • What is your theoretical orientation, if any, in conducting the evaluation? • Reasons for this decision • Potential blindspots in theoretical orientation • Alternative approaches • Exercise conclusion: share with others

  21. Evaluation Research Questions • Formative Research Examples: • How should the program or technology be delivered to address the problem? • How well is the program or technology delivered? • What is the definition and scope of the problem/issue, or what is the question? • Where is the problem and how big or serious is it? (Trochim, 1999)

  22. Evaluation Research Questions • Learning & Instruction: Formative Evaluation Examples: • How well is the instruction likely to work? • What obstacles are learners encountering, and how can they be overcome? • Are the selected instructional methods, media, and materials effective in helping learners learn? • What improvements could be made in the instruction for future use? • (Hanna, et al., 2000)

  23. Evaluation Research Questions • Summative Evaluation Research: • What was the effectiveness of the program or technology? • What is the net impact of the program? (Trochim, 1999)

  24. Evaluation Research Questions • Learning & Instruction: Summative Evaluation Examples: • What did the learners learn? • Did the learners find the instruction interesting, valuable, and meaningful? • What instructional methods contributed to learner motivation? • (Hanna, et al., 2000)

  25. Reflective Exercise: Your research questions • Write up to 5 questions that will guide your evaluation work - what do you hope to learn from these questions? • Once answered, what impact do you see this information having on your intended audience (the stakeholders, institution, etc.)? • Conclusion: share with others

  26. Program/Course/Technology Evaluation: Methods & Data Collection Strategies • Most used: • Informational interviews • Formal, open-ended interviews • Formal, questionnaire-based interviews • Focus groups • Participant observations • Document review & analysis • Statistical modeling/analysis

  27. Learner Evaluation: Data Collection Strategies • Most used: • Pre-test/post-test quizzes of knowledge and skills • Essays • Portfolios • Performance evaluations/learner self-assessment • Interviews • Journals • Reflective papers • Website development • Learner participation figures • Peer assessment

  28. Reflective Exercise: Your methods/data collection approach • What methods would you employ in your evaluation study? Why? • How much time and resources do you think are necessary to conduct your evaluation? • How would you propose to address bias in your data collection approach? • Conclusion: share ideas about your methods with others

  29. Quick Tips on Questionnaire/Survey Design • A popular method in gathering data for evaluation studies • Tips on writing survey questions (handout distributed to participants) • Statistical implications - how questionnaire data is turned into statistics/how to avoid bias in writing questions • Other issues

  30. Reflective exercise: Write a brief questionnaire for your evaluation study • Write 5 good questionnaire items for your evaluation survey based upon your research questions • Who is your intended audience for this instrument (students?, faculty?, administrators?) - why does this matter? • Conclusion: share questions with others/why is it difficult to write good questions?

  31. If time, exploring other methods • Role play exercise: conducting a focus group • Role play exercise: how to interview participants • Basic descriptive statistics: how to analyze user statistics for web-based courses and programs

  32. Why Evaluate: Are we progressing toward meeting Teaching Strategic Plan objectives? What Type of Evaluation:Formative - focus on improving course website to meet specific TSP goals Research Questions: example - to what extent do the participants agree that the website enhanced the course curriculum? Theoretical Orientation: DOI and ALT Frew (2001): Formative Evaluation Study of Web-Based Course Initiatives

  33. Study Population: Faculty and Medical Students (MEDI 605 course - Fall 2000) Methods/Data Collection: Faculty: User Statistics Questionnaire Students: User Statistics Questionnaires Focus Group Frew (2001): Formative Evaluation Study of Web-Based Course Initiatives

  34. Results (an example): Curriculum Enhancement Question: 72.2% faculty - increased enthusiasm for instructional resource 94% students - website improved quality of course Recommendations for Future Educational Development (examples): Greater faculty involvement in diffusion process Offer pre-course training Improve access to computing resources Frew (2001): Formative Evaluation Study of Web-Based Course Initiatives

  35. Additional Resources: • Hanna, D.E., Glowacki-Dudka, M., & Conceição-Runlee, S. (2000). 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups: Essentials of Web-Based Education. Atwood Publishing: Madison, WI. • Knowles, M.S. (1980). The Modern Practice of Adult Education: From Pedagogy to Andragogy. Cambridge/Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ. • Patton, M. (1994). Utilization-focused Evaluation: 3rd Edition. SAGE Publications: London. • Robson, C. (2000). Small-Scale Evaluation. SAGE Publications: London. • Rogers, E.M. (1995). Diffusion of Innovations (4th ed.). The Free Press: New York. • Trochim, W. (1999). The Research Methods Knowledge Base, 1st Edition. Atomic Dog Publishing: Cincinnati, OH.

  36. Discussion:Your Evaluation Experiences: Lessons LearnedQuestions & Answers