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Functions refers to different types of evaluation because each serves a different purpose (or function).

The type chosen will also depend on the evaluation question that is being asked and the decisions that need to be made. For example, a manager may need to ascertain whether it is wise to spend a large sum of money developing a new programme of learning. A needs analysis is a form of evaluation that could help with such a decision. If the new programme goes ahead, evaluation at the beginning of designing the curriculum will help to guide the direction of the development. For example, a question you might ask is: how should the components of the programme be designed to engage the students and enable them access to the learning environment? How should it be delivered to attract enrollments (online, blended or all face-to-face)? Are you beginning to get the picture?

Types of evaluation

An important thing to consider is whether the evaluation is formative or summative.

  • Formative evaluations are carried out during the concept or early design and development phases or when the strategy, course or product is first launched (piloted).
  • Summative evaluations happen at the end of the course or when a product has been used for a specified period of time.

To find out more about these two different approaches, read Formative or summative evaluation?

What have Emilia and Brett got to say about this topic?


Case Study: Emilia

Emilia's evaluation questions for the formative evaluation of her proposed design are:
  • How appropriate are the topics for guiding nursing students through the concepts of health policy?
  • What are the most relevant resources that need to be provided?
  • What activities need to be included to encourage authentic and up to date learning about the subject?


Case Study: Brett

Brett wants to start his action research inquiry with two broad questions:
  • What alternative approaches could be used for assessing practical skills?
  • How do students engage with mobile learning to create their assessment ePortfolios?

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Consider how Emilia and Brett might find some answers to their 'big picture' evaluation questions.
  • How could they find out?
  • What do they need to do next?