Field Test Evaluation of Educational Software: A Description of One Approach

  • Mariela Tovar
  • Nicholas Barker


Educational evaluators in general have traditionally recognized the need to incorporate data from potential users in designing evaluation studies. In the field of courseware evaluation, however, there has been a great deal of emphasis placed on expert judgment as a source of data for evaluating computer-based educational materials. Although courseware reviews are extremely useful, they are not substitutes for field tests;each provides a different type of information that evaluators may use in order to determine the quality of an instructional product.

This paper reports on the evaluation of a courseware designed to assist the writing of the lower-case alphabet. The main objective of the article is to demonstrate an evaluation design which provided adequate answers to our evaluation questions, allowed us to perform multiple comparisons to support our conclusions, and was also practical enough to be used in a normal classroom situation without disturbing everyday activities. Three criteria for selecting a design are presented followed by a description of the courseware evaluation.