AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 86 Education: NASA's Great Observatories
Poster, Wednesday, January 7, 2004, 9:20am-6:30pm, Grand Hall

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[86.08] Formative Evaluation: Answering the Big Questions

B. Eisenhamer, L. Knisely (Space Telescope Science Institute), D. Daou (SIRTF)

Over the past several years, the STScI/OPO Formal Education Team has developed and evaluated numerous K-12 products and programs. One of the most effective instructional design methods used by the team is formative evaluation. During a formative evaluation, products or programs are assessed from the development stages through final product. Some motivations for a formative evaluation are that the resulting products and programs have improved in quality, have fewer errors, and have shown cost savings in the long term. According to Nathenson and Henderson (1980), formatively evaluating instructional materials has resulted in revised instruction that produces statistically significant increases in student performance over the original, unevaluated versions of the instruction. One type of formative evaluation used by the Formal Education Team is the expert review. This allows for a great deal of flexibility in the number of evaluators needed to perform the review as well as for input from a variety of experts, including content experts, graphic designers, instructors, and technical experts. In the end, a benefit of a formative evaluation is that it can be invaluable in answering the big questions, such as: Is the product or program an effective learning tool that students will use and can be integrated easily into the classroom? Additionally, a formative evaluation can benefit developers by providing a thorough, cost-effective, quality end-product whose process can be replicated with other products or programs.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
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