Developing an Effective Online Evaluation System

Developing an Effective Online Evaluation System

Martha Henckell (Southeast Missouri State University, USA), Michelle Kilburn (Southeast Missouri State University, USA) and David Starrett (Southeast Missouri State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch171
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Abstract

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. Still, distance education appears to be here to stay. In fact, a 2000 market survey found that over 94% of all colleges were either offering or planning to offer distance education courses (Twigg, 2001). 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. Higher education enrollments have shown upward movement and this has, to a degree, been attributed to the adult learners’ interest in, and availability of, distance education (Boettcher, as cited by Worley, 2000). Change in the enrollment demographics and the offering of distance education programs stimulates the need for new decisions by academic administrators for quality and accreditation purposes (Shea, Motiwalla, & Lewis, 2001; Tricker, Rangecroft, Long, & Gilroy, 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; faculty needs are to have at their disposal (and to use) the knowledge and means to provide this education; and institution needs are to assess that students receive a quality education and to provide faculty with the resources for student educational needs to be met. One of the problems that could harm distance learning or prevent it from being all that it can be 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.
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Introduction

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. Still, distance education appears to be here to stay. In fact, a 2000 market survey found that over 94% of all colleges were either offering or planning to offer distance education courses (Twigg, 2001). 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. Higher education enrollments have shown upward movement and this has, to a degree, been attributed to the adult learners’ interest in, and availability of, distance education (Boettcher, as cited by Worley, 2000). Change in the enrollment demographics and the offering of distance education programs stimulates the need for new decisions by academic administrators for quality and accreditation purposes (Shea, Motiwalla, & Lewis, 2001; Tricker, Rangecroft, Long, & Gilroy, 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; faculty needs are to have at their disposal (and to use) the knowledge and means to provide this education; and institution needs are to assess that students receive a quality education and to provide faculty with the resources for student educational needs to be met. One of the problems that could harm distance learning or prevent it from being all that it can be 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

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

Improvement-Oriented Evaluation: Formative evaluation directed toward improving what is evaluated ( Patton, 1997 ).

Student Evaluations: Forms 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 ).

Knowledge-Oriented Evaluation: Evaluation used to test theories, gain a better understanding, and create policies ( Patton, 1997 ).

Judgment-Oriented Evaluation: Summative evaluation in which judgments are made on value or worth ( Patton, 1997 ).

Applied Research: Research efforts that seek findings that can be used directly to make practical decisions about or improvements in programs and practices to bring about change with more immediacy (Schein, as cited by Bogdan & Biklen, 1998 ).

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

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 ).

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 AU10: 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. ).

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