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Arts and Social Sciences Journal

ISSN: 2151-6200

Open Access

A Practical Framework for Evaluating Distance Learning Programs in Kenyan Universities

Abstract

Lydiah Nyaguthii Wambugu and Naomi Njoroge

Distance learning is not a new phenomenon. Technology has ensured that learning takes place anywhere at any time by freeing learners from the constraints of space and/or time respectively. Despite of this benefit, there is apprehension among some scholars that distance education compromises the quality of learning. Substantial research has been conducted comparing the academic performance of the conventional face-to-face and distance learners leading to the ‘no significant difference phenomena’. However, a number of researchers have questioned this claim and branded it as inconclusive in that it does not show whether the two modes are equally good or bad. These researchers suggest a shift from comparative studies to evaluation of specific distance education program. The argument for this assertion is that evaluation as a discipline assigns a value or worth of a phenomen based on certain criteria. This criteria may be in terms of fulfillment of outcomes, appropriateness of results (relevance and effectiveness), justification for resources used (efficiency), extent of the change that is attributed to the intervention (impact) and extent of the results lasting beyond the life of the intervention (sustainability). This paper seeks to synthesis program evaluation and distance education literature to recommend a framework for conducting evaluations of distance learning programs. This is because evaluation elements that are used to determine the worth and value of distance learning programs cannot be quite the same terms as the conventional face-to-face teaching that academicians are most familiar with.

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