Types of Curriculum Evaluation

Written by jeff mcdonald
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Types of Curriculum Evaluation
Each way of evaluating a curriculum comes with pluses and minuses. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

A curriculum assessment allows educators to evaluate courses, whether for elementary schools, secondary schools or postsecondary schools. These assessments provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of a given curriculum and ensure the curriculum aligns with given standards, for example, state standards. Educators also want to make sure a curriculum meets the needs of special populations and includes sufficient experiences for learners to develop a deep understanding of the content. Several types of curriculum evaluation accomplish those objectives.

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Formative vs. Summative Evaluations

Formative evaluations occur while instructors are teaching the curriculum and determine if the curriculum is effective. This method allows the curriculum to evolve throughout the assessment period, based on the needs of the students. The impact of curriculum changes are assessed faster with formative evaluations. Summative evaluations occur after teachers have taught the curriculum and determine if the curriculum was effective. Using both formative and summative evaluations allows educators to make the most comprehensive assessments.

Goal-free vs. Goal-based Evaluations

External evaluators conduct goal-free evaluations and are unaware of the curriculum's goals. Evaluations are based on what students learnt. What was learnt may vary greatly from what the curriculum was intended to teach. By looking at the whole picture, the potential exists for developing new teaching strategies, as well as discovering pitfalls in the current curriculum. In goal-based evaluations, evaluators are aware of the intended outcomes. The evaluators assess the curriculum to determine if it achieved desired learning outcomes. Since no consideration is given to anything but the desired outcomes, this method of curriculum evaluation operates on a pass or fail basis.

Judicial Evaluation Model

The judicial evaluation model is similar to a court case, hence the name. A governing body is appointed made up of representatives selected from educators who are familiar with the curriculum under evaluation. The representatives are then divided into two groups. One group argues that the curriculum was effective, while the other group argues that the curriculum was ineffective.

Tridimensional Curriculum Evaluation Model

The tridimensional curriculum evaluation model relies on three cornerstones: efficiency, effectiveness and acceptability. An evaluator assesses a curriculum based on quality of learning, meaning that the teachings are relevant to the course. The evaluator also assesses the curriculum to see how well it achieves its objectives. If students do not understand the material, then the curriculum is ineffective. Lastly, if the curriculum is disliked by the students and educators, then it is deemed unacceptable.

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