Who should be involved in curriculum evaluation?


Objectivity versus subjectivity

Traditionally, evaluation has been governed by the need for objectivity. Subjective evaluation, relying on the emotional responses of individuals, has not been thought to be acceptable. Most forms of evaluation tend to be undertaken by outside agencies, to achieve impartiality. The value of some forms of subjective evaluation has now been recognized, for education and training is designed to meet human needs, and these are by their very nature subjective. In addition, learning itself involves the whole person, including the feelings, for example through learner satisfaction. 

Subjectivity may at times limit the effectiveness of the evaluation, however. People who are intimately involved with any process sometimes find it hard to stand back and see what is actually going on. For this reason, training programmes have been evaluated both internally by the participants and externally by outsiders. 


Internal evaluation

Internal evaluations have been conducted by those most directly connected with the curriculum a guide for learning which integrates the philosophy and orientation of a trainingprogramme, expected learning outcomes, key content, methodology and evaluation for the teaching and learning process. such as teachers, learners, policy makers and education experts (e.g. from the Ministry of Education or Agriculture or from academic institutions). This ensures that the evaluation has credibility since those contributing to it will have a first-hand working knowledge A complex construction of information and individual experience with an interrelatedsocial and environmental dimension. (N.B. many different interpretations of knowledgeexist, and this is one preferred in this Toolkit) of the programme. Such evaluation is mainly formative, done continuously through the programme.


In practice, most teachers and trainers are evaluating their work all the time, especially if they are reflecting critically on what they are doing. They often do it almost unconsciously, or informally, when observing or talking with learners. If this kind of evaluation is carried out in a conscious way it will be much more effective. Learners also can be active evaluators. It is sometimes difficult to involve the learners in the evaluation process, partly because of teacher-learner relationships and partly because of the perspectives held by the learners about the purposes of the evaluation. Learners often feel that they themselves are the subject of the evaluation rather than the curriculum. Being involved in the evaluation puts the learners on an equal basis with the teachers and enables them to see learning for what it is. It is an important part of the learning process. Through it, the learners may see how much progress they have made, what measures of achievement they can use for themselves, and how much further they have to go before they reach their own goals. Such internal evaluation will become a motivating force in the learning process. 


External evaluation

Most forms of summative evaluation are undertaken by external agencies, such as examination boards, or independent evaluators. An external evaluator is likely to have a higher degree of independence and objectivity, and will often possess a wider experience of other courses and programmes. This is helpful since it is possible to obtain a broader view of the effectiveness of the curriculum. 


External evaluators are usually brought in from outside the situation in which the curriculum is being developed. If so, then it will be important that they should take into consideration a wide range of views about the purpose of the programme from those who have been concerned with its development rather than make their judgements on their own. External evaluation is nearly always based on assessments associated with examinations and tests given to the learners. In these cases, the examiner has the power over the learners since the examiner decides what will be assessed and how. Such assessment does not need to be a one-way process, however. Teachers and trainers may assess the learners; equally, the learners may assess their teachers and trainers. Again, learners can assess themselves and their peers. The idea of peer and self-assessment is becoming more popular. 


In a PCD Participatory Curriculum Development approach, if we are to involve other stakeholders in the development of the curriculum, then we need to involve these same stakeholders in the assessment and evaluation of the programme itself. Those who have developed the curriculum will need to know how well it is working. Regular review meetings of the stakeholders will be useful in formative evaluations; and their involvement in the summative evaluations will also be necessary. Participation in assessment and evaluation is thus a valuable tool to enhance the effectiveness of programmes of education and training. It is essential if participatory methods are employed to develop the curriculum.