Designing Evaluations for K-12 Robotics Education Programs

Designing Evaluations for K-12 Robotics Education Programs

Kristen Stubbs (Electra Studios, formerly of iRobot Corporation*, USA), Jennifer Casper (The MITRE Corporation*, USA) and Holly A. Yanco (University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4502-8.ch078
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Abstract

While a large number of robotics programs for K-12 students have been developed and deployed in the past twenty years, the effect that these programs have on students' motivations to enter science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers has yet to be fully determined. In order to demonstrate the value of these programs, researchers must make a concerted effort to measure their impact. Based on prior work in the evaluation of educational robotics programs, the authors of this chapter present frequently-utilized evaluation and measurement methods as well as guidelines for selecting these methods based on factors such as a program's duration, size, and maturity. This chapter is intended for use as a reference guide for designing evaluations of K-12 educational robotics programs.
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The Evaluation Design Process

Evaluation can be incorporated throughout the implementation and execution of robotics education programs. Formative evaluations are conducted as a program is being developed (Friedman, 2008, p. 17). The purpose of the evaluation is to provide feedback about how the robot platforms, curricula, training materials, and other aspects of the program should be modified before the program is conducted again. Summative evaluations are conducted to determine the impact of a program on its target audience (Friedman, 2008, p. 9). For robotics education programs, summative evaluation often involves measuring what students have learned and how their attitudes have changed after participating in a program.

When designing either formative or summative evaluations, it is necessary to determine both the evaluation method(s) and measurement method(s) which will be used. An evaluation method represents an overall strategy for data collection: when will data be collected and from what groups of participants. Measurement methods are the means by which data will be collected from these participants, such as conducting interviews or questionnaires.

The following subsections outline a process for evaluations intended to improve a program’s design, and for evaluations intended to assess a program’s effectiveness, respectively.

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