VCSE Guidebook/Strategies for developing and running e-courses for the VCSE/Evaluation of the VCSE Courses

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3.4. Evaluation of the VCSE Courses

To get an insight into the success of the different courses, a set of evaluation tools was developed and tested. The course-spanning tools have been the following:

  • A pre-entry questionnaire, which all students filled out before entering the course. The focus lies on students’ competencies in using e-learning, their experiences in working in international/interdisciplinary groups as well as their attitude towards and prior knowledge about sustainable development.
  • A final questionnaire is focusing on learning in terms of ‘environment’, ‘content’, ‘process’, and ‘outcomes’. Information about the degree to which students think they understand the issues addressed in the seminar is collected through self-reporting about the learning process. This information might be combined with the actual assessment in the course.
  • With the help of learning records, there became able to study both the learning process and the drivers and barriers for student involvement. At certain milestones in the learning process the students filled out a pre-structured learning record to reflect their own learning process.

In addition to these general evaluation tools, all courses are free to add their individual evaluation tools to cover the specific needs of a course. For example, the European Virtual Seminar includes group reflection reports to monitor the group process during the course. At the Prague and Graz Universities, qualitative evaluation based on open-ended questions was used to gain additional perspectives from the students’ point of view; this was in particular feasible as the number of participants was not very high. Moreover, Charles University used the discussion forum scripts for analyzing communication styles as reflection process for tutors, while spontaneous feedback from students during the semester also provided useful feedback.

The different data sources are used in an internal evaluation report that is produced for every course. These reports serve as a basis for a discussion about the courses between the partners. They also function as an internal monitoring possibility.

Following the Interim External Evaluation (June 2008), it was decided to re-design the internal evaluation tools of the VCSE e-courses in order to enhance certain aspects, such as meaning of sustainable development and “Sustainable Europe” in the VCSE context. Moreover, the added-value of all VCSE e-courses via their inter-cultural dimension will be further enhanced and promoted. The re-designed internal evaluation tools of the VCSE e-courses will be tested in real-life conditions during spring 2009. Given the still relatively low number of participants, a more qualitative approach with open reflections will be supported.