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Definition Rossi and Freeman 1993 define evaluation as the systematic application of social research procedures for assessing the conceptualization design implementation and utility of programs There are many other similar definitions and explanations of what evaluation is in the literature Our view is that although each definition and in fact each evaluation is slightly different there are several different steps that are usually followed in any evaluation It is these steps which guide the questions organizing this handbook An overview of the steps of a typical evaluation follows Summative Evaluation Summative evaluations assess program outcomes or impacts To determine the relationship of different factors to outcomes similar to formative evaluations some information used in summative evaluations is collected early in the life of a program eg baseline data test scores Unlike formative evaluations however a portion of the information is collected after the program has been completely implemented and adequate time has passed to expect outcomes to occur In terms of evaluating educational technology a summative evaluation might ask if teacher technology skills improved as a result of a professional development activity if teachers are using technology to a greater extent in their instruction or if technology improved student motivation or performance Some advantages of summative evaluations include They can if designed correctly provide evidence for a cause-and-effect relationship They assess long-term effects They provide data on impacts They can provide data on change across time Formative Evaluation Evaluators often talk about two different types of evaluations formative and summative A formative evaluation is usually conducted in the early stages of a program and addresses questions about implementation and ongoing planning This type of evaluation typically examines process rather than product In the case of technology programs a formative evaluation might ask if equipment was received on time if the expected number of teachers received professional development what skills teachers learned from professional development or if the equipment is being used in the
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