Formative Assessment for Research Methods in Education

Formative Assessment for

Research Methods in Education


Your mark on this module will be based on a summative assessment in which you will be required to write two essays (total word count: 3500 +/- 10%) evaluating a research design and a questionnaire. To help you check your understanding of the principles of research design and how to write an essay of this type, we provide you the opportunity to receive feedback on a short formative assessment. Formative assessments do not count towards your final mark. Your formative assessment for this module should be submitted via the Google Form in the assessment section of the VLE site. The deadline for submission is midday (12:00) Wednesday week 6.

Your task

Teachers like ourselves are always keen to improve our students’ learning experience. Drawing on the methods of data collection introduced in this module, a number of different methods of eliciting data on students’ learning experiences have been developed. These methods include:

  • Student Evaluation Questionnaires (SEQs)
  • Student formulated evaluations
  • Semi-structured group interviews
  • Peer evaluation

See below for a detailed description of each method.

Your task is to evaluate the appropriateness of these methods of evaluation with respect to a learning context of your choice. If you are an experienced teacher, you might choose the most recent context in which you have taught. If you have not taught before, you might choose a context in which you were a learner or one in which you hope to teach in the future.

Your markers are looking for evidence of critical understanding of research methods. Your essay should therefore:

  • Introduce your context (i.e., subject, age, level of your learners)
  • Introduce the methods of evaluation you have considered
  • Identify the research methods associated with the different methods of evaluation – Explain whether the methods of evaluation generate quantitative and/or qualitative data.
  • State your order of preference for the methods.
  • Provide a justification for your order of preference.

The strongest assignments will provide reasons for your order preference supported with appropriate references from the literature and make links between your reasons and the concepts of reliability and validity.

Your essay should not exceed 300 words (excluding references). It should include an introduction and a conclusion. All in-text citations and the reference list should conform to the American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines (6th Edition).

Approaches to teaching evaluation

Student Evaluation Questionnaires (SEQs)

The SEQ is a common end of module evaluation tool in most university departments.  Standardised end of module SEQs typically cover a range of issues including the quality of the teacher’s presentation skills, the organisation / structure / pitch of the programme of delivery and the resources available.  Responses are normally entered anonymously on a Likert scale (typically 1-5 or 1-4). There is also often space for qualitative comments at the bottom of the SEQ.  End of module SEQs can be administered either online or via paper in a session at the end of the programme of study.

Student-Formulated Evaluations

In student formulated evaluations, the formulation of the evaluation as well as its completion is handed over to students.

  1. Each student is asked to construct an evaluative comment that can be responded to on an agreement – disagreement Likert Scale and to write this at the top of a piece of paper.
  2. The papers are taken in, shuffled and re-distributed. The papers are then rotated through the class and each student is asked to respond to the statement on the top of the sheet of paper by expressing their level of agreement or disagreement and being invited to add a qualitative comment if they wish.
  3. The sheets are collected and examined for evidence of consensus or lack thereof. Sheets showing a consensus on clearly expressed positions are withdrawn and given to the tutors for appropriate response. Sheets showing either lack of consensus or lack of clarity of position are discussed further in the group, with the tutors present, to clarify the students’ views and attempt to reach an actionable position.

The Semi-Structured Group Interviews

This is a meeting with students at which they are asked to give their views about a programme, course or class. Typically, students are asked to work in small groups to reflect upon good and bad features of the educational provision (e.g. programme, course or module), its delivery, and their own performance and experience. A spokesperson from each group is asked to relay the considered views of the group to the meeting. The role of the member of staff leading the meeting is to compile a summary of such views, to validate them at the meeting, and, later, to produce a short report of the main outcomes.

Peer Evaluation

This is where a colleague observes a session and feeds back to the teacher on how it went.  Ideally peer evaluation should be structured, perhaps involving an initial briefing session where the context of the session to be observed can be established, followed by the observation itself which is based around a series of pre-agreed points or a checklist, followed by a de-briefing session where feedback and discussion can occur.