What is evaluation?
Support for evaluation
Obtaining feedback and data for analysis
Models of evaluation
Evaluation is about measuring the effectiveness of something, for example, how you teach and assess. To help you evaluate your practice, you can obtain feedback and data. When analysed, this information can be used to help you improve your own practice, and the experiences of your learners.
Evaluation is a quality assurance tool for a product or a service. If you are delivering and/or assessing a qualification or a programme of learning, then that is the product. The facilities of the organisation and the support your learners receive relate to the service. Your learners should have the opportunity to evaluate the products and services at some point, perhaps by completing a survey.
Evaluation is not another term for
assessment; evaluation is of the products and services, whereas assessment is of the
learners' progress and achievements. Evaluation should be an ongoing process throughout all aspects of
teaching, learning, assessment and quality assurance.
Online CPD modules for various topics can be accessed by clicking here.
Reading lists for Evaluation, Reflection and CPD can be found by clicking here.
Resources to support teachers and learners can be found by clicking here or scrolling to the end of this page.
Videos can be seen by clicking here.
An important aspect of evaluation is self-evaluation. This is a process of thinking about how you have performed, and asking yourself questions to identify how you could improve. It also includes obtaining feedback from others. This can be by discussions, questionnaires, surveys, reviews and appraisals. You can use this information to consider how to review and update your practice.
Questions you could ask yourself include:
how effective was my planning and preparation?
how well did I communicate with the learners and others?
how effective were the delivery approaches I used?
how did I stretch and challenge my learners?
how effective were the resources, equipment and materials I used?
how effective were the assessment activities I used?
Self-evaluation can also involve completing a learning journal or a diary which demonstrates how you dealt with critical incidents and what you would do differently next time. See the reflective practice section further down this page.
Your peers are the people you work with i.e. your immediate colleagues, or your mentor if you are fairly new to your role and have one. They can help with the evaluation process by providing you with valuable feedback.
This might be from discussions with them, or by them observing you with your learners.
However, it's important to take their feedback seriously, and not become defensive when you hear something you don't agree with, but to do something with the feedback to benefit you and your learners.
This is about asking your learners to reflect on something that they have done. For example, asking them to think about the strategies they used to complete a task, or how they approached answering questions in a test; and what they found difficult and why.
Enabling them to evaluate how they approached something, and then to discuss it with you, will help them to consider different approaches if necessary. The process will also help you to understand if a teaching, learning or assessment activity is working or not, perhaps by highlighting issues to you which you were not aware of.
Learner evaluation can also be about learners providing you with feedback regarding the products and services that they have received.
Employee evaluation includes appraisals and reviews of progress. You will probably participate in an appraisal or a performance review system at some point. This is a valuable opportunity to discuss your learning, development, any training or support you may need, and to set performance targets.
It is also a chance to reflect upon your achievements and successes. Having the support of your organisation will help you to decide what is relevant to your development, your job role and your specialist subject. You could share your ideas with colleagues if it’s something everyone could benefit from.
Evaluating your practice as an employee could help you to:
provide a professional service to learners and others
ensure the teaching, learning, assessment and quality assurance process is fair to all
meet organisational and regulatory requirements
meet any performance targets
learn from any incidents.
Whichever type of programme, qualification or set of standards you teach and assess, no matter when or where, it’s important to evaluate everything you have been involved with. This is to not only help make improvements to the programme, but for yourself, your current, and future learners. Programme evaluation focuses on the product i.e. what the learners are working towards. It is about obtaining feedback from learners and others regarding the way a particular programme has been managed and implemented. Surveys can take place at several points, for example, after the induction process, part way through and/or at the end.
If you start a programme with 15 learners and only nine achieved at the end, then you need to find out why. It could be that the learners’ needs were not met, they were on the wrong programme, or they left by personal choice. When analysing data regarding your programme and learners, you may need to compare this to national averages (if available).
Obtaining feedback and data regarding the products and services offered is a crucial part of the evaluation process. This information will help you to deal with any problems or issues as necessary, if it forms part of your job role. You can use the information to share with colleagues and to improve the products and services, as well as your own professional development. Even if this is not part of your role, it’s useful to know how feedback and data can be used to have an impact upon performance. Positive feedback can be used in publicity and promotional materials. Negative feedback should be responded to and acted upon as soon as possible.
There are many different ways of obtaining feedback. The process could be carried out face to face; online; via the telephone; internet or by post, and could include:
When creating a questionnaire or a survey, you will need to consider what method you will use to gain the type of feedback you require; how you will use it; and who you will choose and why. The information you receive should help with the evaluation process. Always inform your learners how their feedback has led to changes and improvements. If the latter have not yet taken place, let your learners know what will happen and when.
There are many different ways of designing questions, and of designing a questionnaire or a survey. Your organisation might already have a process for this and it's useful to find out what methods are used and why. For example, using open or closed questions, or a mixture of both to gain qualitative and quantitative responses.
Gathering and analysing data can also prove useful for the evaluation process, such as: enrolment; retention; pass rates; achievement; destinations; progression; appeals and complaints.
Reflective practice is about becoming more self-aware, which should give you increased confidence. It is an analysis of your actions which should lead to an improvement in practice. It can be written down, or just thought through. It should become a part of your everyday activities enabling you to analyse and focus on things in greater detail.
However, there may be events you would not want to change or improve as you felt they went well. If this is the case, reflect as to why they went well and use your thoughts to improve future sessions. When evaluating your own practice, you need to consider how your own behaviour has impacted upon others and what you could do to improve.
A straightforward method of reflection is to have an experience, then describe it, analyse it and revise it (EDAR) (Gravells 2017). This method incorporates the WWWWWH (who, what, when, where, why and how) approach and should help you to consider ways of changing and/or improving.
You could use EDAR to help you reflect on a recent incident.
Experience – an event or incident that you would like to change or improve.
Describe – aspects such as who was involved, what happened, when it happened and where it happened.
Analyse – consider the experience deeper and ask yourself how it happened and why it happened.
Revise – think about how you would do it differently if it happened again and then try this out if you have the opportunity.
As a result of your reflective practice, you might find certain skills improving, for example giving more effective, constructive and developmental feedback to your learners. Part of reflection is about knowing what you need to change. If you are not aware of something that needs changing, you will continue as you are until something serious occurs.
You may realise you need further training or support in some areas, therefore you could create a personal development plan (PDP) and then take part in relevant continuing professional development (CPD). Maintaining an ongoing reflective learning journal (RLJ) can help with the reflection process. See the end of this page for downloadable resources.
There are many models of evaluation, three of which are briefly explained here. You could research these further, as well as others such as: Kolb, Johns, Gibbs, Lewin, Ecclestone, and Tripp. You could even devise your own method based on what works for you.
Schön (1983) suggests two methods of reflection:
reflection in action
reflection on action.
Reflection in action happens at the time of the incident, is often instinctive and allows for immediate changes to take place. It is about being reactive to a situation and dealing with it straight away.
Reflection on action takes place after the incident and is a more conscious process. This allows you time to think about the incident, consider a different approach or to talk to others about it before making any changes. It is about being proactive and considering measures to prevent the situation happening again in the future.
Brookfield (1995) identified the
importance of being critical when reflecting. He advocated four points of view
when looking at your practice which he called critical lenses. These lenses are
from the point of view of:
theories and literature.
Using these points
makes the reflection critical, by first looking at it from your own point of
view; secondly, how your learners perceived your actions and what they liked
and disliked; thirdly, the view from colleagues, e.g. your mentor is taken into
consideration. This enables you to have a critical conversation about your
actions which might highlight things you hadn’t considered. Fourthly you should
link your reflections to theories and literature, comparing your own ideas with
Griffiths and Tann
Griffiths and Tann (1992) introduced a cycle of reflection with different time frames. The cycle begins with planning and ends with evaluation. They state that without a conscious effort, the most immediate reactions to experiences can overwhelm the opportunity for deeper consideration and learning.
The aspects go through five levels or time frames:
1. rapid reaction (immediate)
2. repair (short pause for thought)
3. review (time out to reassess, hours or days)
4. research (systematic, focused, weeks/months)
5. re-theorise/re-formulate (abstract, rigorous, over months/years).
Template – Personal Development Plan (PDP in Word) (50p)
1 page template which can be used to plan CPD activities. A completed example is available to purchase below: Ref A9060
Completed example of a Personal Development Plan (80p)
1 page completed example of a personal development plan from the perspective of an assessor. A blank form in Word is available to purchase above: Ref AT003
Completed example of a Reflective Learning Journal (£1.50)
2 page completed example of a reflective learning journal. This is from the perspective of a teacher delivering their first session to a new group of learners. The detailed reflection takes into account theories such as Schon and Brookfield. A blank form in Word is available to purchase above: Ref AT005