Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #275

Methods for Evaluating Educational Programs – Does Writing Center Participation Affect Student Achievement?

by Julia Bredtmann, Carsten J. Crede and Sebastian Otten

RWI, RUB, 08/2011, 24 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-320-7



This paper evaluates the effectiveness of the introduction of a Writing Center at a university. The center has the purpose to provide subject-specific courses that aim to improve students‘ abilities of scientific writing. In order to deal with presumed selfperceptional biases of students in feedback surveys, we use different quantitative evaluation methods and compare the results to corresponding qualitative student surveys. Based on this evaluation, we present and discuss the validity of the approaches to evaluate educational programs. Although almost all students reported the writing courses to be helpful, we find no significant effect of course participation on students‘ grades. We attribute the difference in the results between quantitative methods and qualitative surveys to the inappropriateness of student course evaluations for assessing the effectiveness of educational measures.

JEL-Classification: I20, I21, C81

Keywords: Performance evaluation; educational programs; student evaluation; empirical methods