The Results of Evaluation
When The Case of Plastics ended, we all had opinions about what worked and what didn’t. But these were anecdotal impressions from people deeply invested in the project. For a more unbiased look at the pilot we turned to the report of our outside evaluator.
This report helped us determine what students thought of the project and identify successes and areas for improvement. Here are just three of the ideas:
1. The survey responses were generally positive. Though problems exist, the positive tone of student responses made clear that they saw value in this program, which is always reassuring. And if this project has value, why not other, similar projects? Other games? Other conflicts?
2. Now the challenges: Some students reported that they needed more time to complete the project, particularly the introductory section. Knowing the limitations on teachers, we had worked to keep the game within a reasonable time frame. But the introduction doesn’t require much class time, and students can prepare out of class while studying other topics in class. The new version of the game emphasizes this possibility and encourages teachers to give students as much preparation time as possible. And perhaps some extra debate time, if possible.
3. Students also reported confusion about game rules and expectations. We had relied on teachers to explain much of the game to students, but given the student confusion, we decided to do more. We added explanatory material for students and outlined a more active role for teachers. Teachers are encouraged to explain expectations in detail at the beginning of the project and to clarify, fact check, and redirect students as necessary throughout the game.
With the help of these and other suggestions from the evaluation report, The Case of Plastics nears its final form and release to a wider audience.