How, What, and Why We Evaluate
â€œIf there is not an inherent attracting power in the material, thenâ€¦ the teacher will either attempt to surround the material with foreign attractiveness, making a bid or offering a bribe for attention by â€˜making the lesson interestingâ€™; or else will resort toâ€¦low marks, threats of non-promotion, staying after schoolâ€¦. But the attention thus gainedâ€¦always remains dependent upon something externalâ€¦.True, reflective attention, on the other hand, always involves judging, reasoning, deliberation; it means that the child has a question of his own and is actively engaged in seeking and selecting relevant material with which to answer it.â€ â€“John Dewey, 1915
like to think about how far education might come if instruction is built more around Deweyâ€™s words and less around standardized testing. We must often build instruction upon the needs of our organizations rather than the needs of our learners. As you begin to pull everything together for your project, remember Deweyâ€™s image: the child with a question of his own, seeking answers. Will that describe your learners?
In an idealistic way, is that the basis of evaluation? Did the child have a question and seek the answer? One of my teachers once asked: â€œIf you arenâ€™t going to evaluate it, why teach it?â€ Itâ€™s a simple enough question. And it seems logical. But what is evaluation?
There are many levels and approaches to evaluation. The readings this time cover several aspects of the topic. Yet in some ways we still need to go back to Perelmanâ€™s â€œNot Questioning the Question.â€ What do we really hope to discover with evaluation?
Finally, donâ€™t be afraid to fail. As we all know, we learn an awful lot by making mistakes (although we still feel awful). To promote our ability to rationalize, Iâ€™ve added a fascinating article â€“ â€œThe Importance of Failureâ€ â€“ so that we all appreciate what a service we give to humanity when we mess something up. Seriously, I feel Unsworth is also warning us not to get caught up in a euphoria brought on by change, without truly assessing where that change is leading. Is the emperor wearing cloths or isnâ€™t he? How do we know for sure, especially at a distance?
Some Things to Think About
- What are some of the data collection methods used in online evaluation?
- Reflect on the shortcomings of online quizzes and tests.
- Can proctored exams be effectively utilized in distance learning situations?
- Reflect on three constituents of a program evaluation and the perspective each contributes.
- Why it is important to fail?
A few surfing tripsâ€¦
- â€œThe Importance of Failure,â€ John Unsworth, The Journal of Electronic Publishing, pp. 1-9
- Flashlight Projectâ€™s website at http://www.learner.org/edtech/rscheval/
Please let me know if you found this article to be of assistance or have other items that you would like to see discussed.