Evaluation Models Part III: Eisner’s Criticism Model

In the last few posts, we have looked at evaluation models that come from a scientific approach. In this post, we look at evaluation from the a humanistic perspective.

Curriculum evaluation models that come from an humanistic approach see evaluation as more qualitative than scientific models. Humanistic evaluators believe that the process of assessing curriculum is too complex and messy to rely so heavily on quantitative methods. There should be less numbers and more written descriptions  The purpose is not to answer questions completely but to add to the conversation by exposing additional questions.

One example of an evaluation model that adheres to the principles of humanistic approaches is Eisner’s Criticism Model.

Eisner’s Criticism Model

Eisner’s Criticism Model is used for evaluating a new curriculum and not necessarily to examine a curriculum that is established. This model has four steps as follows

  1. Describe
  2. Interpret
  3. Evaluate
  4. Identify themes

The steps are mainly self-explanatory. First, evaluators describe the setting and curriculum of the study. Second,  the evaluators explain the reasons for the new curriculum by  explaining the need. Third, The evaluators present their understanding of the value of the new curriculum. Fourth, various themes are identified within the curriculum that are meaningful.

This four-step process involves qualitative activities for data collection. Evaluators might  participate in classes, observe classes or other activities, analyze student work,  use video, photos, interviews, of teacher and students in action. The goal is to notate what is happening but also what may not be happening in the data. This involves written narrative much more the numerical summaries.

In order to complete such an evaluation, an individual needs to have an expert knowledge in education. Eisner refers to such individuals as connoisseurs. These are people who know what to look for as well as how to value and appreciate what is happening.

Conclusion

Although not nearly as common as scientific models such as Stufflebeam or Stake humanistic models such as Eisner’s Criticism model has its place in education.  For smaller schools or smaller programs, this model is an excellent way to go beyond just numbers and to describe the effectiveness of a curriculum with words. However, for larger schools or programs it is challenging to use such an approach when there is so much happening that needs to be summarize succinctly.

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