By Judith W George and John Cowan
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Additional info for A Handbook of Techniques for Formative Evaluation: Mapping the Student's Learning Experience
You might even wish to take this one stage further with a questionnaire which elicits interest in the various topics of the course – again informing the tutor who can then decide how to respond. However, this is hardly 'formative evaluation' as we have been using that concept! Summary We reiterate here a message in the model, for curriculum development to which we subscribe – namely that teaching should be a response to, and a support in respect of learning needs, either anticipated or declared.
French reports that 'It was possible not only to gain a richer insight into the students' concerns, but also to suggest specific changes to course arrangements'. Example 2 French then describes a similar formative evaluation of a four-year BEd course, where the size of the sample he required necessitated a more cost-effective way of ingathering the data. He used the same questions as before, but asked the students to write responses – anonymously – in group sessions. He states that 'The liveliness of what they wrote still gave more depth and feel of authenticity than is possible with traditional methods.
Such journal entries directly identify individual needs that have not as yet been satisfactorily resolved by the programme – though they do not do so according to a representative or statistically defensible pattern. This, however, then makes it possible for these needs to be investigated and checked for frequency of occurrence, and so to receive attention either within the class programme or individually – as appropriate.