What is evaluation and why is it important?

Evaluation as described in the 'evaluation of eLearning' course, involves critically examining an online programme/course or some aspect of the teaching and learning in order to be able to make an informed judgement about its quality and success. Evaluation is an important component of all stages of instructional design and an essential part of monitoring and improving eLearning practice.

How do you evaluate? What is the evaluation process?

It is important to design and plan your evaluation carefully in order to get information that is useful. Planning should balance the most appropriate ways of gathering information with the time, resources and cost involved in carrying out the evaluation.

Evaluation can be carried out to trial a significant change or new innovative approach or resource prior to introducing it into a programme (needs assessment), during the development and delivery of the course (formative evaluation), and at the completion of a programme/course to determine if the learning outcomes have been met (summative evaluation). In my experience, formative evaluation often occurs in a fairly informal manner based on a teachers perceptions and reflections about how good something will be or has been in the classroom. A more formal evaluation is often carried out at the end of a course, using online or paper-based survey tools, to get feedback from students on student satisfaction, the quality and effectiveness of the learning activities, and the performance of the teacher. This information is used to improve the course in the future and for a teacher's performance review.

The first part of the evaluation process involves identifying the specific purpose and context of the evaluation: What am I evaluating and why? What are the key issues to be considered? What type of evaluation is needed? Who should be involved or consulted as part of the evaluation (stakeholders)?

Next, decide on the methods and instruments for collecting relevant data. A "multiple methods" approach involves using a range of different methods of sampling in order to gather information from many different perspectives (known as triangulation). Methods could include observations, questionnaires, checklists and focus groups. You would need to ensure that this phase is reasonably easy to manage with tools/methods that are simple to administer and organise.

Once the data has been collected, it is analyzed and interpreted, and used to make recommendations relevant to the purpose of the evaluation. A formal report detailing the evaluation process and the final recommendations can then be prepared.

Here's a link to Bronwyn's slide presentation about why evaluation is so important (20 mins). I love the chicken hat!


  1. Misha said...

    Hi,Veronique, I found your overview of evaluation a useful focussing for me. I can easily get lost reading all around a topic and exploring all angles - oblique and otherwise. I will use this as a mini reference point to keep me focussed.
    We are engaged in redeveloping a Certificate course and I am aware that the "real" work is about to begin.All the official documentation has gone off to wherever it goes in the halls of Academia for final approval and we now need to develop the actual courses in the new format. Plenty of scope for formative evaluation.

  2. Veronique said...

    Thanks Misha, I'm glad you have found this useful. I find I need a logical framework to work from (big picture stuff) otherwise, I get easily get lost in the sidetracks and begin to feel a bit overwhelmed. There's always more stuff you can explore when you are working online!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.| Header image by southenz using Wordle | Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds.