The Development and Validation of a Pre-Evaluation Instrument for the Virtual College of Texas to Measure Quality in Distance Education Courses
ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to 1) provide a detailed examination of the criteria for preevaluation utilized to measure quality in a distance education course for the Virtual College of Texas (VCT) and consortium members, 2) examine the process of each VCT consortium member in order to determine the criterion for the quality of distance education courses being provided by a host or provider college, and 3) develop and validate a pre-evaluation instrument to pre-determine quality in distance education courses for the Virtual College of Texas and consortium members. This was a qualitative research study that utilized document analysis, semi-structured interviews questions and incorporated a modified use of the research and development cycle. The data was gathered from the member colleges that are part of the Virtual College of Texas Consortium. The entire 43 member college?s websites were searched for documents containing the criteria that they used to evaluate the quality of on-line courses. These documents were also used to formulate the questions used in the semi-structured telephone interview questions. During the course of this study it became evident that an educational research and development strategy would be utilized due to the development of a pre-evaluation instrument to pre-determine quality in distance education courses for the Virtual College of Texas. There are 10 major steps in the educational research and design (R and D) process however in this study it was modified since not all of the major steps were applicable. It is clear that determining quality criteria is not easily accomplished due to the differences in and of the decision makers, however the participants in this agreed on the final development of a pre-evaluation instrument to pre-determine quality in a distance education course. The use of a pre-evaluation instrument to pre-determine quality in a distance education course may aid distance education in promotion of its foundational purpose of connecting the instructor with the student for learning and in promoting the value of connecting human beings in a meaningful way through the use of distance education for human resource development (Swanson and Holton, 2001).