January 05, 2021
Series: Better Childbirth Education By Design - Evaluation: 4 Ways of Looking at Effectiveness
By: Andrea Lythgoe, LCCE | 0 Comments
Today, please enjoy the seventh and final post in the series: Better Childbirth Education By Design, a special Connecting the Dots series written by skilled educator LCCE Andrea Lythgoe. Andrea has been a frequent contributor to Connecting the Dots over the years with some very popular and informative posts. Instruction design is a field that applies systematic approaches to planning education. Lots has been written about its use in a wide variety of fields, from K-12 education to higher education, corporate training and even the US military. In this series - Better Childbirth Education by Design, Andrea introduces readers to a very common model of instructional design, called ADDIE, and demonstrate how childbirth educators can use this process to create and refine your childbirth classes. Today, Andrea discusses evaluating your course offerings to help you evaluate and adjust your curriculum. To find the entire Better Childbirth Education By Design series, follow this link. - Sharon Muza, Connecting the Dots Community Manager.
Evaluation is a useful tool for refining your classes, but only if you are asking good questions and making use of the data. Remember all that time you spent writing objectives? Ideally, your evaluations will tell you how you did at meeting those objectives.
Evaluations are not just for the end of class, either. It can be helpful to do an evaluation partway through the class so that you can make course changes and adapt as needed. This could be a formal evaluation like a survey, but it also could be an informal evaluation. My informal mid-course evaluation involves each person in my class getting a few sticky notes, and I ask them to write something on each one and stick them up on a poster as they leave at the end of the day. The poster has three categories:
Things I have enjoyed so far
Things I wish were different
What I still hope to learn
And students can add to any of them they would like. I also leave a pad of sticky notes near the poster in case they have more to say. This exercise is done at the end of the third class (of seven) in my series. You can download a 20X30 file for this poster at the link at the bottom of this post.
Most educators do a more formal evaluation at the end of the series, and this evaluation can look at your course effectiveness on several levels. You may want to start with some basic information about the person filling out the evaluation, but make sure it is not so much that the students feel they would be identifiable. I have found the most important piece of basic information is asking if the person filling out the form is the pregnant person or a support person. The Kirkpatrick Model describes four different levels of evaluation, all of which can be addressed by questions in a single evaluation survey:
Level of Learner Satisfaction – Do your students enjoy coming to class? Do they feel like the class met their expectations? Do they feel like it was worth their time?
Level of Knowledge/Skill Acquisition – You can ask students to rate their knowledge and skills before and after the class and see if they rate it higher after the class. You might ask very generally if you want a short evaluation, or more specifically if you’re doing a more in-depth evaluation. Draw from your enabling objectives here, though you do not necessarily need to ask about every single one.
Level of Application of New Knowledge/Skills – This is a little harder, you want to evaluate if the families you teach are able to use what you have taught. Right at the end of the class, you can ask about if they are using BRAIN to discuss things with their care provider, or if they have been using relaxation techniques to deal with stress. If you evaluate after the birth, you can ask if they were able to apply them during their birth.
Level of Achievement of Expected Outcomes – This is looking at your overall objectives. Were they achieved? Remember one of my overall objectives is that they will come out of my classes feeling increased confidence in their ability to birth. Here is how I address that in my evaluations.
You want to vary the kinds of questions you ask, as well. These might include:
Short Answer – a fill in the blank style question. You might have an item that reads “I wish I had learned ___________” or “I am glad I learned about ________________”
Ratings – make sure you have an odd number of choices so people who feel neutrally have an option. Also make sure it is clear which end of a numeric scale is the “good” side. The examples of learner satisfaction and knowledge and skill acquisition above are two ways to do ratings.
Checkboxes – Ask students to check all the responses that might apply from a list of possibilities.
Open ended – These are the hardest to accumulate and work with the results, but they also are the best for catching any feedback that does not fit the other questions. If you start seeing a pattern in the responses, you might make a change and then develop a question to address that aspect in future evaluations. The classic open-ended question would be “Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience in this class?”
Evaluations are really only worth it if you look at, examine, and use the information you collect to improve your classes. Sometimes, it is hard to read what people think about your classes. Remember that you do not have to change based on any one single comment or bad evaluation. As you look them over, search for patterns. Consider entering the numbers into a spreadsheet and looking at averages. You might notice that lots of birth partners are not rating that they have an increase in confidence in their ability to go through the birth process with someone in labor. That is a cue to look for ways you can adapt your teaching to better serve that need. A single response that complains they do not like what you said about monitoring may or may not have merit.
Good evaluation practices can help you tailor your classes to the needs of specific groups and improve your teaching overall, so it is definitely worth the time and effort to evaluate your classes well.
About Andrea Lythgoe
Andrea Lythgoe, LCCE is a childbirth educator and doula with over 20 years of experience helping families as they move through pregnancy and birth. She is also the author of UnderstandingResearch.com, the place for birth professionals to learn how to find and read research. Recently, she has gone back to school to study instructional design and strengthen her skills. You can find Andrea at andrealythgoe.com
TagsChildbirth education Andrea Lythgoe Series: Better Childbirth Education by Design Instructional Design