Assessing evaluative measures for Internet-based courseware
Simpson, Kari J. E.
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Although there is a consensus in th~ literature on the many uses of the Internet in education, as well as the unique features of the Internet for presenting facts and information, there is no consensus on a standardized method for evaluating Internetbased courseware. Educators rarely have the opportunity to participate in the development of Internet-based courseware, yet they are encouraged to use the technology in their learning environments. This creates a need for summative evaluation methods for Internet-based health courseware. The purpose ofthis study was to assess evaluative measures for Internet-based courseware. Specifically, two entities were evaluated within the study: a) the outcome of the Internet-based courseware, and b) the Internet-based courseware itself. To this end, the Web site www.bodymatters.com was evaluated using two different approaches by two different cohorts. The first approach was a performance appraisal by a group of endusers. A positive, statistically significant change in the students performance was observed due to the intervention ofthe Web site. The second approach was a productoriented evaluation ofthe Web site with the use of a criterion-based checklist and an open-ended comments section. The findings indicate that a summative, criterion-based evaluation is best completed by a multidisciplinary team. The findi~gs also indicated that the two different cohorts reported different product-oriented appraisals of the Web site. The current research confirmed previous research that found that experts returning a poor evaluation of a Web site did not have a relationship to whether or not the end-users performance improved due to the intervention of the Web site.