Components of a Distance Education Evaluation System

Components of a Distance Education Evaluation System

Martha Henckell, Michelle Kilburn, David Starrett
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch215
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As with any new program, the chance of failure runs high and distance education, in comparison with the longevity of traditional education, is considered relatively new. Enrollment growth, as well as the number of distance courses and programs now offered, demonstrates that distance education appears to be here to stay. Allen and Seaman (2013) report 6.7 million online learning students were enrolled in at least one online course in 2011. This figure represents an increase of 570,000 students over the previous year. With this much interest and popularity, the need for policies to regulate distance education program practices should be recognized by all participating institutions of higher education (Czubaj, 2001).

While students appear to be more focused on the conveniences that distance education provides, universities are more attentive to the need for offering a valid learning alternative. Couple this with the view held by 69.1% of chief academic officers who consider online learning to be critical to their long-term strategy (Allen & Seaman, 2013), the offering of distance education courses and programs stimulates the need for new decisions by academic administrators for quality and accreditation purposes (Shea, et al., 2001; Tricker, Rangecroft, & Long, 2001).

One of the first steps toward ensuring success of distance education programs is identifying the requirements of all those involved. Student needs are to receive a quality education. In the Changing Course report, 77% of the chief academic officers surveyed believe that online learning provides learning outcomes as good as or better than face-to-face instruction (Allen & Seaman, 2013). Faculty needs are to have at their disposal (and to use) the knowledge and means to provide this education, as well as a belief in this modality of teaching. Unfortunately, only 30% of the surveyed chief academic officers believe that their faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online learning. Institution needs are to assess that students receive a quality education and to provide faculty the resources in order for student educational needs to be met. One of the barriers to a strong distance education program is the lack of a good evaluation system. The focus of this article will be to identify and describe, from the literature, the components of an effective evaluation system. Armed with this information, administrators will be able to make better program decisions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Student Evaluations: Forms that were specifically designed to measure observed teaching styles or behaviors (Wright & Neil, as cited by Chen & Hoshower, 1998 ). Student evaluations are typically administered at the end of the course ( Algozzine et al., 2004 : Neumann, 2000 ).

Internet Self-Efficacy: People’s perceptions about their own abilities to use the Internet (Tsai & Tsai, as cited by Tsai et al., 2011 ).

Academic Self-Efficacy: A student’s perception of academic learning (Girasoli & Hannafin, as cited by Tsai et al., 2011 ).

Computer Self-Efficacy: An individual’s perceived confidence regarding his/her ability to use a computer (Compeau & Higgins, as cited by Tsai et al., 2011 ).

Evaluation System: A devised system that outlines in a plan what, when, and how courses are to be assessed ( Benigno & Trentin, 2000 : Robson, 2000 ).

Policy: “Policy as a chain of decisions stretching from the statehouse to the classroom is a by-product of [many] games and relationships; no one is responsible for the whole thing” (Firestone, as cited by Fowler, 2000 ).

Internet-Based Learning: An individuals’ confidence and self-belief in their ability to master an online course or online learning activity (Yukselturk & Bulut, as cited by Tsai et al., 2011 ).

Distance Education: Education or training courses delivered to remote (off campus) sites via audio, video (live or prerecorded), or computer technologies, including both synchronous (i.e., simultaneous) and asynchronous (i.e., not simultaneous instruction) (Distance Education, 2003 AU33: The in-text citation "Distance Education, 2003" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Evaluation: The systematic determination of merit, worth, and significance of some object (Stufflebeam, as cited by Fowler, 2000 ).

Traditional Course: Course with no online technology used—content is delivered in writing or orally ( Allen & Seaman, 2004 ).

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