根据对30名研究生院系学习成绩优异的学生进行访谈所得的数据，发现总体上讲，学生在课程评价中更重要和更重视的内容包括课程目标，课程内容五个方面。 ，教学方法，学习评估方法和课程效果。The journal article “What aspects should be evaluated when evaluating graduate curriculum: Analysis based on student interview” by Decheng Zhao, Xiaorong Ma, and Shanbin Qiao that published in the magazine Studies in Educational Evaluation discussed the research of what would graduate students pay attention in terms of the key indicators of graduate curriculum evaluation and what kind of characteristic the graduate curriculum has can be considered as excellent.
Through reviewing this article, this article can be considered as a good research paper and it is supported by two main points. First, the structure of this paper was clear and well set. From the abstract part to the discussion and limitation part, the contents of this article were all consistent and informative. Second, instead of talking about their opinions and speculations, the authors of this article were trying to draw conclusions based on valid data through quantitative approaches. Even though there are still some limitations regards to the research approach design and conduction, the findings are still valid and provide the field of curriculum evaluation with new and useful insights, which meets the aims of this article. The main purpose of this study was to use qualitative approaches to explore the important characteristics of graduate curriculum evaluation from students’ point of view regards to five main aspects, including objective, content design, teaching approach, learning evaluation and effects, along with providing the evidence and insights contributing to the improvement of the graduate curriculum design and evaluation process.
And in this article, the sections of introduction and methods contributed well to address its purpose. The section of introduction part of this article was made up with three parts, which were background information, related literature review and research questions. Start from the background information of related government policies and the rapid increase of student numbers for high education in China in the last decade. The reason for why researching what makes an excellent graduate curriculum evaluation was so important was explained. And this provides general motivation for this research purpose.
One of the points that make the statement of this article clear and easy to understand is that its research aim followed quite logically from the literature review. With the help of a thorough review of relevant literature before commencing their study, the authors introduced the definitions of curriculum evaluation to give readers a basic understanding. Then by addressing the problems of the current graduate curriculum evaluation system in China and particularly one of the reasons for that, the main content of this study was decided as adding graduate students’ thoughts into consideration (Pan, 2014). Also, the authors pointed out the research gap in the area of curriculum evaluation, which was lack of any empirical studies about characteristics of graduate curriculum evaluation from students’ perspective. Therefore, three research questions were proposed and explored. They are what is an excellent graduate curriculum? What are its characteristics? What do you think the graduate curriculum evaluation should involve and why? (Zhao, Ma & Qiao, 2017, p. 52). And each of them not only corroborates with the research purpose, but also helps to decide the appropriate research method and form the interview questions.
What’s more, the section of Methods in this article gave a straightforward and plainly explanation of its research design, which was so informative that this it can be evaluated by other researchers to verify the credibility of the findings. By reviewing the logical structure of this paper, its research design can also be considered as consistent with its purpose which included an exploratory element. Without any other similar researches, the method of using semi-structured interviews is quite useful to gather new insights from the student participants about the graduate curriculum and its evaluation, along with understanding the reasons for their attitudes and opinions. Additionally, the whole design of this study was to help authors to reach their purpose of gather evidence to support their findings and make suggestions to the graduate curriculum design, while also contributing to extending the knowledge database of its evaluation. The methods of sampling and data analysis, as well as the contents of the interviews were all selected and designed to get more valid results.
Based on the data collected through interviews with 30 students who had excellent academic performance in graduate departments, it was found out that in general, what are more important and valued by student in the curriculum evaluation involved five main aspects, including curriculum objective, curriculum content, teaching approach, learning evaluation method, and curriculum effect.
The key findings are summarized as below. First of all, graduate students would prefer employment-oriented curriculum in order to learn necessary professional skills for future jobs and long-term, instead of overemphasizing on developing the academic and research capability. Secondly, the curriculum contents, involving literature, theory and related technology, should be updated or even advanced, along with appropriate breadth and depth. Also, students would pay more attention to contents linked with practice. Thirdly, whether the teaching approach is effective and inspiring or not is also important in graduate curriculum evaluation. Varied teaching approaches, active student engagement, and interaction between teachers and students should be taken into consideration for graduate curriculum evaluation. Additionally, applying various and diversiﬁed ways in the learning evaluation process is highly recommended to conduct a more fair and reasonable evaluation. And lastly, an excellent graduate curriculum shouldn’t be focusing on providing students with good outcomes or a satisfied process. Instead, it should be able to effectively help with their development in terms of comprehensive knowledge and capacities.
By adopting two main qualitative techniques, coding and content analysis, the authors were able to identify different opinions about the characteristics of an excellent graduate curriculum and the frequency of similar results. This article also introduced the concept of five tree nodes which were the five main aspects of the curriculum, and sixteen child nodes which were the characteristics raised by the interviewees. In addition, all the statistic results were analyzed and combined into a simple table in order to have a clear presentation. In addition, the key findings were listed and highlighted by using the format of subtitles in the section of Main findings.
With the intention of evaluating the trustworthiness of this qualitative research and its key findings, the review of related literature, used research methods, and applied analysis approach are critically discussed. On the one hand, there are many great points from this article that makes its key findings trustworthy at a certain level. First of all, in the methods part, the authors provided with adequate information about selected student samples, key interview questions, interviewees and their conduction approach, and method of analyzing the interview contents. With these detailed described research methods and detailed explained how the interview results were analyzed, it would be possible for other researchers to repeat the study using the same methodology. And this means that the key findings of this article can be applied to other contexts and populations. Secondly, all the findings in this paper were drawn directing from the interviews with the supports of direct quotes from the student participants. Not only did the authors list the key findings clearly, but also did they try to understand the reasons for their attitudes. For example, when drawing the conclusion that students prefer the curriculum objective to be more employment-orientated, one participant’s own word ‘Graduate students have obtained the ability to judge and make future plans. Therefore, they care about….’ was quoted in the paper (Zhao, Ma & Qiao, 2017, p. 53). And this makes the findings more credible. Thirdly, the high credibility of these key findings also comes from the internal consistency of the research process. For example, the interview questions were highly consistent with the findings. By tying together the research questions, collected data, and the process of qualitative analysis with the final findings, it increases readers’ intention to trust the key findings more. Last but not least, the interviewers were made up with six graduate students who have related training before conducted the interviews, which enabled them to do the interviews with less bias and high quality. The data collected from the interviews can be more credible. Also, in terms of sampling, the 30 participants were graduate students selected from different departments and disciplines after thorough and reasonable considerations. Therefore, in a certain way, the samples were representative and the findings were valid for the graduate curriculum evaluation.
However, on the other hand, there are some weaknesses of the trustworthiness on the key findings due to the limitation of research methods. First of all, the selected samples were all graduate students who had the excellent academic performance at school. They might not be able to represent the whole population of graduate students in question because excellent students only account for a small percentage of the whole group. Therefore, the key findings of graduate curriculum design might not be so accurate because they were based on a small and unrepresentative number of cases which lack diversity. In addition, when using semi-structured interviews as the research method, there would always be risks of data quality issues. Without clear statement and record of the interviews, there are some uncertainties about the reliability regarding the data. For example, whether the interviewers use any leading words or gestures and how they approach questioning are significantly important. Because when there is a bias among the interviewing process, the reliability of the data obtained decreases. And finally, there is no triangulation method used in this study, and this can also be considered as a limitation. Only one research method, semi-structured interviews, was used in this research to collect data. During the analysis, the authors used the frequency of the preferred character of graduate curriculums by students. However, there were only 30 responses. Although the research had some very useful insightful findings on graduate curriculum evaluation, the findings might be totally accurate. Also, the results were not compared double-checked with existing relevant studies to increase the reliability of the key findings.
In summary, even though there are some limitations regards to the key findings of this article, they are still trustworthy and valid at certain levels due to the repeatable of the research process and consistency. The findings of this paper can be viewed as an insightful extended explorations and help contribute to the research area of the graduate curriculum evaluation. In the discussion and suggestion part, this article tried to discuss and propose what to evaluate in the future aspects by relating and comparing to various existing literature.
Also, some of the key findings can also have applicable meanings for my field of study, education. There has been raising the amount of concerns about how to ensure or improve education quality around the world. Experts and educators have been arguing what to do for decades. And the findings from this article can help to build a framework of education quality management. To be more specific, when conducting education quality management, it is important to take the students’ point of view into consideration, because different stakeholders, such as teachers, students, administrators, would have different opinions on how to improve education quality.
What’s more, one of the key findings in this paper suggests the contents of education curriculum be updated and practical. This can also be applied to the discipline of education, for example, teachers should not just focusing on teaching students basic academic knowledge from the book. Instead, they should aim for preparing the students for real-life tasks and future development with essential capabilities. These findings also provide helpful insights regards to what teaching and learning approaches should be in order to improve education quality. Education quality is not only about good outcomes, but also the effectiveness of the process. Multiple ways of evaluating students’ learning outcomes should be applied. Teacher-student interactions should be encouraged to get students involved and lead to a more comprehensive understanding of knowledge. Also, educators and teachers should keep evaluating themselves from time to time to form more effective teaching plans and improve their teaching approaches.
Decheng, Zhao., Xiaorong, Ma., & Shanbin, Qiao., (2017). What aspects should be evaluated when evaluating graduate curriculum: Analysis based on student interview. Studies in Educational Evaluation, Vol. 54, p. 50-57. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stueduc.2016.11.003
Pan, W. L. (2004). The study of China graduate education quality evaluation system Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Shanghai: East China University. In Chinese.