Drawbacks of Responsive Evaluation

Responsive Evaluation

Responsive evaluation emphasizes feedback from both children and parents, and participated observation of children by the instructor.

Heisenberg Principle of Uncertainty

  • It is impossible to make a precise determination at the same time of both the position and the velocity of an electron.

  • Observation leads to interference (Heisenberg, 1953)--The very process of observing student knowledge or other characteristics may affect those characteristics.

Hawthorne Effect

  • Investigators at the Hawthorne plant of Western Electric concluded that the cause of increased productivity was not planned variations in working conditions but a feeling that, because of these variations, observers were really concerned about the workers (Snow, 1926).

  • Some educators suggested that a continuing commitment to change can capitalize the Hawthorne effect (Trow, 1970).

Halo Effect

  • Whenever teachers rate students on a series of traits or behaviors, there is a possibility that they will make their judgments on the basis of global impressions of the people rather than on the specific traits.

  • e.g. A student who reads well may also be rated by a teacher as high on such other characteristics as attentiveness, neatness, or cooperativeness.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Some people criticized that psychological and educational models are ever changing like garment fashion. Some new models seem to work at the beginning because of, to a large extent, the Hawthorne effect. Program innovators have been elated by the enthusiasm and apparent success marking the first year of an effort, only to find a subsequent rapid return to pre-innovation levels. Do you agree to this notion? Explain.

  2. Some educators suggested to harness the Hawthorne effect: keep introducing new programs to schools so that students feel being cared and as a result performance improves. Would you adopt this approach? Explain.

  3. To what extent the responsive evaluation model is subject to the Hawthorne effect and the Halo effect? Give both positive and negative examples. What can we do to minimize the negative effects?


Heisenberg, W. (1958). Physics and philosophy: The revolution in modern science. New York: Harper.

Snow, C. E. (1926). Research on industrial illumination. Tech Engineering News, 8, 257-282.

Trow, M. (1970). Methodological problems in the evaluation of innovation. In M. C. Wittrock & D. E. Wiley (Eds.), The evaluation of instruction: issues and problems (pp. 289-305). New York: Holt.



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