Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Editorial

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Editorial

Article excerpt

We have in this winter issue of AEQ an impressive array of articles dealing mainly with distance education and many focusing on online instruction. How to assess the quality of instruction delivered through other means than face-to-face classroom activity is a growing question. This issue contains articles which suggest possibilities.

Among the questions are how online courses may be evaluated, how student outcomes may be measured, how to establish qualification criteria for students enrolling in online courses, how to determine qualification criteria for faculty who wish to teach such courses, and how to draw comparisons between online courses and traditional courses.

The three main types of evaluation tools--quantitative, summative, and formative may be used, but it has been my experience that the latter is more productive for distance and online instruction.

Formative evaluations allow for mid-course corrections if needed. Because of the flexibility of the online format, the instructor may receive comments from students, and the course may be altered accordingly.

But how does the instructor encourage forthright responses from the students without their fear of instructor reprisal? How will the students be assured that whatever criticisms they offer will not be punished by a lower grade? (We are generally confident about our colleagues' professionalism, but many of our students aren't.)

One method would be asking students to send their feedback to a distinterested third party, who would then summarize the comments and forward the information to the instructor. …

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