How do we know that the project is effective?
In the course the project implementation all its participants could share their opinions and suggest their own solutions. The project was highly praised by school pupils and teachers. However, in order to state with certainty whether or not the objectives set at the start of the project implementation have been achieved, professional evaluation studies needed to be conducted. An external company was engaged to objectively assess the set indicators and their degree of achievement.
The evaluation studies under the EDUSCIENCE project covered:
• three editions of mathematics, natural andlanguage tests conducted by means of computer methods (CAWI) among all school pupils taking part in the project,
• three editions of surveys checking the project users' and recipients' satisfaction and their opinions on individual products, as well as monitoring all the suggested changes by means of computer methods (CAWI),
• 120 in-depth personal interviews with school pupils and teachers (IDI),
• 24 group surveys with school pupils and teachers (focus surveys).
The project evaluation studies aimed to assess if participation in the EDUSCIENCE project contributed to the development of skills in the range of mathematics, natural and technical subjects among children and adolescents.
The following questions were sought to be answered:
• What build-up of knowledge and skills in mathematics, natural sciences has there been among the school pupils participating in the project?
• Have the school pupils developed abilities to practically make use of skills acquired in the course of the classes?
• To what extent have their analytical and synthetic thinking skills been improved?
• Have their skills of using specialised English in the area of sciences covered by the project
• Has there been any change in the school pupils' general approach to mathematics and natural sciences?
Results of the evaluation studies
The diagnostic material gathered in the course of the project implementation was impressive. In total the following was obtained: 5,579 CAWI surveys from school pupils, 914 surveys from teachers, 26,142 completed competence tests (mathematics and natural sciences - 13,492, English - 12,650), as well as 120 individual in-depth interviews and 170 opinions from focus-based group surveys. The conducted studies show that the most relevant benefits of the EDUSCIENCE project's final products include: high content-related quality of the educational materials available at the platform, very good organisation of the educational events and excursions, and visual attractiveness of the EDUSCIENCE platform.
The indicators examined were achieved to the following extent:
• average build-up of knowledge and skills taken for entire units for mathematics and natural sciences - the assumed target value: 20%, the achieved value: 20%;
• development of abilities of practical use of skills acquired in the course of classes (they refer to, among others: application of research methods, analysis of results, drawing logical conclusions, and data synthesis) - the assumed target value: improvement in 70% school pupils, achieved value: improvement in 72% school pupils;
• improvement of analytical and synthetic thinking skills among school pupils - the assumed target value: improvement in 70% school pupils, achieved value: improvement in 76% school pupils;
• improvement of skills of using specialised English in the area of sciences covered by the project - the assumed target value: improvement in 30% school pupils, the achieved value: improvement in 62% school pupils;
• change in the school pupils' general approach to mathematics and natural sciences - 88% of the teachers participating in the EDUSCIENCE project consider that there has been an increase (or even a dramatic increase) in mathematics and natural sciences among the school pupils.
Without any doubt the EDUSCIENCE project and platform have been positively assessed. According to the school pupils as well as the teachers, they have led to increasing the attractiveness of classes and raising their potential to expand knowledge. A considerable impact of the project on an increase in the school pupils' interest in mathematics and natural sciences - regardless of their education and sex - has also been perceived.
The development of interest in mathematics-natural sciences, indication of their practical application and improvement of analytical-logical thinking skills are due to the implementation of new, interesting methods of knowledge transfer which have engaged school pupils. As surveyed, the highest value in this respect is generated by: real life experiences, excursions, picnics and science festivals during which the school pupils and students can personally take part in experiments. The teachers often and willingly make use of the EDUSCIENCE platform, its resources, and features available at the platform; they positively assess their quality and quantity. In the course of the qualitative research, there were repeated voices in favour of keeping up the project and including other classes in it, which is its best recommendation.
The full scope on the evaluation is available (in Polish) on the project website: www.eduscience.pl/strony/ewaluacja.