, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 369-386

The influence of participants in formative evaluation on the improvement of learning from written instructional materials

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Formative evaluation in instructional design is widely advocated as a means to improve instructional materials through tryouts with learners and experts and revision based on this feedback. Research on formative evaluation has sought to prove its effectiveness and to provide guidance as to which methods of collecting feedback and which sources of feedback are most effective in improving learning. It is difficult to determine from the research whether aspects of tryout or of revision are responsible for improved learning. This paper describes a systematic investigation of both tryout and revision to more clearly determine the influence of different formative evaluation participants (experts, learners and revisers) on the improvement of learning from written instructional materials.

It was found that revised versions incorporating learner feedback had the most impact on improving learning from the materials. It was also found that revisers have a far more powerful impact on formative evaluation outcomes than was previously supposed, in terms of how they mediate and incorporate the feedback they are given. The results refute contentions that any revision is better than none since versions revised without learner feedback did not improve learning. Implications are discussed.