In designing an evaluation, it is important to be clear about your own goals for the study, but also take into account those of others who you feel have, or should have, a significant stake in the development (project). Those with an interest in the development or who are likely to utilise the findings or be key “end-users” are referred to as the evaluation ‘stakeholders’. Stakeholders might be: you, as teacher to extract lessons learned and improve on practice; your students or future cohorts; other lecturers, department, senior managers, to disseminate lessons learned and promote good practice by others; discipline professional body, QAA, funding body, finance officer, to satisfy monitoring requirements and accountability.
The use of student feedback is a key component in evaluation. The students may not be interested in an evaluation report as such, but it helps to engage with them as the main end-users of any new e-learning approaches. This encourages more active participation in the development. You might consider holding an initial focus group with students explaining your aims and the e-learning being developed and ask for their ideas and feedback as things progress. The students can also propose additional areas for investigation and can give feedback on the effectiveness of the evaluation questions (meta-evaluations are also valuable).
A stakeholder analysis will assist you in further defining the purpose and focus of the evaluation. It will determine whether your evaluation is diagnostic, formative or summative. If appropriate, your evaluation should address potential stakeholders’ questions and concerns. These is also likely to dictate what point in time your evaluation needs to be planned, undertaken and completed and what resources are available (see below). It may dictate both the methods used to collect the data and the way in which the findings are presented.