Evaluating Student Outcomes from Telecourse Instruction

A Feasibility Study

by Richard J. Shavelson, Cathy Stasz, Steven L. Schlossman, Sandra Goldstein, John Y. Hotta, Noreen M. Webb

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Telecourses provide instruction primarily to diverse populations of students off campus, most notably through television, but via other media as well. A single telecourse varies widely depending on features of its implementation at different sites or by different instructors. For this and other reasons, the educational value of telecourses remains in dispute, and evaluations have not established that students in telecourses and equivalent traditional courses acquire the same knowledge, skills, and attitudes. This study examines the feasibility of evaluating the impact of telecourses on students' acquisition of subject-matter knowledge, skills, and attitudes. More specifically, it (1) examines alternative evaluation designs to assess student outcomes; (2) provides preliminary data on student outcomes for two telecourses (The Constitution: That Delicate Balance and The New Literacy); and (3) makes recommendations regarding the feasibility of evaluating student outcomes within time, institutional, and methodological constraints.

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