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Methods for evaluating educational programs: Does Writing Center Participation affect student achievement?

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  • Bredtmann, Julia
  • Crede, Carsten J.
  • Otten, Sebastian

Abstract

This paper evaluates the effectiveness of the introduction of a Writing Center at a university, which aims at improving students’ scientific writing abilities. In order to deal with the presumed limited utility of student feedback surveys for evaluating the effectiveness of educational programs, we use students’ actual learning outcomes as our quality measure. Based on this objective measure, different statistical evaluation methods established in the labor market treatment literature are applied. We present and discuss the validity of these methods to evaluate educational programs and compare the results of these approaches to implications obtained using corresponding student surveys. Although almost all students reported the writing courses to be helpful, we find no significant effect of course participation on students’ grades. This result highlights the need for institutions not to rely solely on student course evaluations for evidence-based policy decisions.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Evaluation and Program Planning.

Volume (Year): 36 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 115-123

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Handle: RePEc:eee:epplan:v:36:y:2013:i:1:p:115-123

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/evalprogplan

Related research

Keywords: Educational programs; Student evaluation; Empirical methods; Writing Center; Student self-perception; Institutional assessment; Evidence-based policy;

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References

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  1. Susan M. Dynarski, 2003. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 279-288, March.
  2. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Wößmann, 2005. "Does Education Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences-In-Differences Evidence Across Countries," Discussion Papers 04-026, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  3. Scott E. Carrell & James E. West, 2010. "Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(3), pages 409-432, 06.
  4. Martin Davies & Joe Hirschberg & Jenny Lye & Carol Johnston & Ian Mcdonald, 2007. "Systematic Influences On Teaching Evaluations: The Case For Caution ," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 18-38, 03.
  5. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588, December.
  6. Martin Schlotter & Guido Schwerdt & Ludger Woessmann, 2009. "Econometric Methods for Causal Evaluation of Education Policies and Practices: A Non-Technical Guide," CESifo Working Paper Series 2877, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Gregory A. Krohn & Catherine M. O'Connor, 2005. "Student Effort and Performance over the Semester," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(1), pages 3-28, January.
  8. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2005. "Educational Reform, Ability, and Family Background," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 414-424, March.
  9. Charles Ballard & Marianne Johnson, 2005. "Gender, Expectations, And Grades In Introductory Microeconomics At A Us University," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 95-122.
  10. Michael A McPherson & R Todd Jewell & Myungsup Kim, 2009. "What Determines Student Evaluation Scores? A Random Effects Analysis of Undergraduate Economics Classes," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 35(1), pages 37-51.
  11. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren & David P. Sims, 2010. "The Persistence of Teacher-Induced Learning," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(4), pages 915-943.
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