Proper evaluation of all educational curricula is vital to providing an effective education to students. The purpose of such an evaluation is, in essence, to discover how well educational objectives are being met. An evaluation method must be accurate and valid, however the evaluation must also be accessible to those who need to use it.
If an evaluation method is inaccurate or highly complex to utilize, it will either be misused, or not used at all. Math curricula can be especially difficult to match to an evaluation method because of the demands of the subject; scientific validity is a must, and ideally the design of the method would be crafted by someone who has a true understanding of mathematics in education. The evaluation method designed by Ralph Tyler is ideal for use by an educator for evaluating math curricula.
Ralph Tyler was a student at the University of Chicago, and he studied under the famous Charles Judd. Tyler obtained his Ph.D. in 1927; he specialized in mathematics in school, which gives his work a particularly effective edge when applied to math curricula. Ten years after his graduation, he was appointed Director of Research for the Evaluation Staff on the well-known Eight Year Study. Tyler believed that scientific study was the key to successful education in every subject, and this was used as the basis for his research. Successful learning and teaching techniques were sought in the study, and from that research Tyler”s evaluation method was formed. Eventually Tyler would understand that all learning objectives should be determined by observing and actively evaluating student behavior within the class. (Pinar et al, 1995)
The Objectives-Oriented Approach was popularized, if not entirely fathered, by Tyler. Tyler”s approach follows seven distinct steps:
(1) establish broad goals or objectives,
(2) classify the goals or objectives,
(3) define objectives in behavioral terms,
(4) find situations in which achievement of objective can be shown,
(5) develop or select measurement techniques,
(7) compare performance data with behaviorally stated objectives. (Worthen & Sanders in ITGRN)
These simple steps make this method ideal for evaluation of math curriculum for several reasons. First, it is scientifically sound, following steps like the scientific method. The method is simple; it does not require in depth research or detailed critical thinking that would take a lot of time out of the evaluator”s busy schedule.
The steps are ideal for clarification of ideas, and it helps the teacher specifically ask the right questions of him- or herself as well as of the students. It also stresses empirical methods for evaluating goals and objectives. The shortcomings of this evaluation method are also minimal, including that neglects the context in which the evaluation takes place, and that it neglects the value of the objectives themselves. These are shortcomings which, unlike those of other evaluation methods, are easily overcome when applied to the curriculum by an intelligent person.
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