Sunday, May 3, 2009

Evaluation Plan Draft

My project consists of a Needs Analysis investigation asking the question:How can an existing predominately F2F Written Communication class use electronic resources to engage and encourage learners.

Presently, I teach a range of F2F business classes. One of the subjects I struggle to make exciting and enthralling for my students is Written Communication, Level 3. It is a core course that all students need to complete to obtain their full qualification. The classes are scheduled as a two hour practical class and a two hour tutorial class running over six weeks. In the 2 hour practical, three areas are covered: CV and Letter Writing, Technical Writing and Report Writing, so any eLearning components I introduce will be given as additional resources rather than classwork resources. I am hoping by giving the students interactive resources I will notice a marked improvement in the quality of the assessment submitted and an enthusiastic (well, more enthusiastic) approach to the subject by the students.

For students with a solid grasp of English, the coursework is a ‘cinch’, but for others the coursework is difficult. Many students find the lessons long and tedious and I often notice a drop off in attendance after week one or two which in turn leads to a frantic panic by the students towards the end of the course when they realise they need to complete Written Com to finish their certificate. Added to this, many of the students taking this level 3 paper, don’t have a thorough knowledge of business writing to begin with so their ‘problems’ are compounded as the course nears the end.


The general purpose of this evaluation is to evaluate whether eLearning can easily and effectively be included into this particular unit and whether it will be worthwhile for the students. AudienceThe Needs Analysis assessment will be carried out with the help of current students on the course. There are 9 regular attendees who will be asked to contribute their thoughts and feelings on using supplementary eLearning resources for the course.


The findings from this Needs Analysis evaluation will initially assist me in designing and obtaining eLearning resources that are useful for my students. It may provide advice to other lecturers and designers of foundation literacy courses of where to acquire ready made resources or provide new avenues of learning not previously explored.


I have chosen the following two elearning guidelines to base my Needs Analysis on. The additional comments are my thoughts (but not necessarily the entire sub-questions) on what I want to achieve from each guideline. :

TD1: How can eLearning be used to support students in meeting the intended learning outcomes?
~ How do students feel about using webbased technology? I need to establish whether the students feel comfortable using possibly alternative technology so early in their coursework. While I can assume they will be ‘all for it’, perhaps the pressure of having to potentially learn something new may hinder their positive experience~ How is eLearning currently being used in tertiary education for this subject?
Finding out what other institutes are doing/using to teach this subject will be useful as comparison data. ~ What sort of approaches and resources might be used to motivate learning?

TD7: Can Students practice using the assessment tools used in the summative assessment?
~ Do the templates provided assist the student?At present one template for the written report is provided so I’d like to know if this was helpful for the student, why or why not it was helpful. This may help me to determine whether I need to create more directed resources for the students.
~ Does the ‘potential resource’ provided complement the classroom environment?The potential resource I have in mind is a webbased quiz type application that is almost game like. It takes the student through commonly confused English words i.e. Their, there and they’re. For the student to progress they must complete the previous level. I would like to know whether this type of interactive resource is useful for the student and whether it complements the work we do in class.


The methods I am using are an informal focus group consisting of some of my current students. The opinions of the focus group will be collated and used in my investigation of how other institutes deliver foundation programmes (namely Written Comm) online or via other eLearning methods and whether this is viable in my programme.
I will conduct email interviews with expert peers (at least 2) at other institutes around the country to gain their knowledge on what has worked for them in the same scenario.
I may have time to visit at least one TAFE in Queensland, Australia on my next visit (July) and speak with lecturers/ course designers to ascertain how Australian Institutes deal with eLearning in foundation courses.

The methodology I am using is a mixed-methods evaluation design which fits under an eclectic-mixed methods-pragmatic paradigm (cited Reeves,T. 1997).
The reason this particular paradigm was chosen is that it provides diversity and incorporates different approaches of a practical nature that is suited to my personality and style of work.

Evaluation in an educational setting is the process whereby we seek evidence that the learning experiences we have designed for students are effective. We evaluate educational activities for two overlapping reasons:
1. to obtain information that can inform the ongoing design and development process (often referred to as formative evaluation);
2. to decide whether an innovation is worth retaining (often referred to as summative evaluation). These forms of evaluation often meld together, and each can be difficult to undertake properly. (Philips, Bain, McNaught, Rice, Tripp, 2000)


To complete the evaluation an evaluation plan (this document) will be produced and submitted for feedback. An investigation of resources and methods detailed in this plan will then be undertaken. Following the investigation, an analysis of data and materials will proceed which will conclude in a formal written report for the perusal of my fellow course participants.

Timeline (Adjusted 30th June 2009)

30 June – 3 July. Finish writing evaluation plan and submit
4- 19th July Undertake investigation and gather data.
20-27 July Analyse data, write report and submit by 31st July.


Evaluator charges at $70 per hour * an estimated time spent on project of 12-15 hours) Total $960 - $1200


Reeves, T. C. (1997). Established and emerging evaluation paradigms for instructional design. In C. R. Dills & A. J. Romiszowski (Eds.), Instructional Development Paradigms (pp. 163-178). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Educational Technology Publications.

Phillips, R., Bain, J., McNaught, C., Rice, M. and Tripp, D. (2000). Handbook for Learning-centred Evaluation of Computer-facilitated Learning Projects in Higher Education, Murdoch University and the Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE). Available