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close this bookEducational Handbook for Health Personnel (WHO, 1998, 392 p.)
close this folderChapter 2: Evaluation planning
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentWhat is evaluation?
View the documentContinuous evaluation formative and certifying evaluation
View the documentAims of student evaluation1
View the documentCommon methodology for student evaluation1
View the documentComparison of advantages and disadvantages of different types of test
View the documentEvaluation in education qualities of a measuring instrument
View the documentEvaluation is a matter for teamwork

Aims of student evaluation1

1 Adapted from Downie, N.M. Fundamentals of Measurement: Techniques and Practices. New York, Oxford University Press, 1967.


1. To determine success or failure on the part of the student. This is the conventional role of examinations (certifying evaluation).

2. To provide “feedback” for the student: to keep him constantly informed about the instruction he is receiving; to tell him what level he has reached; and to make him aware through the examination of what parts of the course he has not understood (formative and certifying evaluation).

3. To provide “feedback” for the teacher: to inform him whether a group of students has not understood what he has been trying to explain. This enables him to modify his teaching where necessary to ensure that what he wishes to communicate to the students is correctly understood (formative and certifying evaluation).

4. The “reputation of the school” is something of which the importance is not always evident, at least in European schools, whose reputation is often based not on an examination system but on long-standing traditions. North American schools, on the other hand, customarily publish the percentage of students who have passed, for example, national examinations (formative and certifying evaluation).

Why does an educational programme fail?


To begin instruction before a proper system of evaluation has been constructed is likely to be a waste of effort, time and other resources. All educational programmes will experience failures and problems at some time. Without proper evaluation of all its elements for formative purposes, you might have difficulty in understanding why the programme has failed. But one of the advantages of a system of continuous evaluation is that you will usually be able to prevent failures. Romiszowski (1984)1 has pointed out that “promising new instructional systems have been known to fail because no account has been taken of this simple principle (formative evaluation). Once the initial field-testing stage has come to a close, yielding excellent results, a project enters its final phase of regular, large-scale use and, slowly, a form of “drift” takes place, carrying it further and further away from the changing reality in which it was implanted. Thus, as in the case of an alien organ implanted without due care in a living organism, a rejection phase is reached and the new instructional system is eliminated, killed off by the “antibodies” in its environment. The way to avoid rejection of an implanted sub-system is to maintain a high level of compatibility between the new system and older, more established systems in its environment. As these are in constant change, the new system must also constantly adapt itself”.

1 See footnote to page 1.72.

Four steps in student evaluation


Once you are satisfied with the quality of the criteria (acceptable level of performance) of the educational objectives


Develop and use measuring instruments


Interpret measurement data


Formulate judgements and take appropriate action