Formative Evaluations in Online Classes

Jennifer L. Peterson, Illinois State University, Normal, IL., USA


Online courses are continuing to become an important component of higher education course offerings. As the number of such courses increases, the need for quality course evaluations and course improvements is also increasing. However, there is not general agreement on the best ways to evaluate and use evaluation data to improve online courses. While summative student evaluations are commonly used, these may not be the most effective for online course evaluation and quality improvement. Formative evaluation is one method of providing course evaluation and feedback to the instructor during the course while course improvements can be made to benefit the students currently in the course as well as future students. This method of evaluation not only provides for an effective course evaluation but also continuous improvement in the course. This case study reviews formative evaluations done in two online courses in a Health Information Management program. These formative evaluations were found to be quite effective for the identification and development of needed course improvement throughout the semester as well as for use as input into overall course evaluations. These evaluations demonstrate the value of formative evaluations and provide a methodology for implementing such evaluations into an online course.


Distance education, course evaluation, quality improvement, self-assessment, higher education, feedback, health information management

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