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Athabasca University


MDDE 617: Program Evaluation in Distance Education

Delivery mode: Online course using Moodle

Credits: 3 - Elective

Prerequisites: MDDE 601, MDDE 602 for MEd program students only

Instructors: Mary Kennedy and Robert Sochowski



In Program Evaluation in Distance Education MDDE 617 you will be introduced to the field of program evaluation, which spans a number of social science disciplines including education and training, nursing and medical education, social work, military training, and business. The course is designed to increase the student’s knowledge and understanding of major forms, approaches, and models of program evaluation and applying that knowledge in the production of a program evaluation proposal.


Course Objectives

Throughout the course the following objectives are intended to guide your study.

  • discuss how the roots of program evaluation lie in research, particularly scientific measurement.

  • distinguish between program evaluation’s purposes, uses, and essential activities.

  • differentiate between formative and summative evaluation

  • distinguish between testing and evaluation

  • discuss the emergence of modern program evaluation in the 1960s

  • describe five theoretical frameworks for program evaluation

  • describe the six categories of program evaluation models

  • relate the six model categories to distinct evaluation beliefs/theories

  • delineate evaluation models in relation to the program evaluation continuum

  • discuss aspects of planning in relation to the various program evaluation models

  • describe the five forms of program evaluation

  • relate the five forms of program evaluation to distinct evaluation purposes

  • delineate evaluation forms in relation to the program continuum

  • discuss aspects of program planning in relation to the various forms of program evaluation

  • discuss integration of evaluation forms and models

  • discuss methodological issues pertaining to the various program evaluation forms and models

  • distinguish between quantitative and qualitative data and the complementary use of both data forms in evaluation

  • describe when, why and how to implement the various data collection activities

  • develop and provide a rationale for evaluation questions

  • develop and justify evaluation standards and criteria

  • discuss the unique challenges of evaluation at a distance

  • describe specific applications of program evaluation to distance education

  • develop a proposal for an evaluation of a distance education program.

Course Outline

This course is divided into five units.

  • Unit 1 Overview of History and Theory of Program Evaluation

  • Unit 2 Program Evaluation Models and Approaches

  • Unit 3 Program Evaluation Forms and Purposes

  • Unit 4 Program Evaluation Methods and Applications

  • Unit 5 Program Evaluation and Distance Education


Course Materials

In addition to this Study Guide for MDDE 617, your course materials include the following:


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Fitzpatrick, J. L., Sanders, J. R., & Worthen, B. R.(2010). Program evaluation: Alternative approaches and practical guidelines. White Plains, NY: Longman, (eText).

Owen, J. M., & Rogers, P. J. (1999). Program evaluation: Forms and approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Case Study Text

The Case Study Text contains mostly fictitious evaluation requests for proposals, proposals, and evaluation reports. It is authored by the course designer, and selected cases will be used to guide both discussion forums and course assignments.


Student Evaluation


Maximum Grade

Assignment #1
Evaluation plan and standards/criteria specification.


Assignment #2
Critique of an evaluation report using five forms of program evaluation.


Assignment #3
Development of program evaluation proposal.


Online discussion forums, 3 of 5



Get Started Early

Early access to the Learning Management System, Moodle, begins a few days before the official start date of your course, at that time you will have limited access to the course. On the Official Start Date of the course, instructors will be available and the discussion forums will automatically become active.


Last updated by MM October 12, 2016

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