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How to evaluate new lesson plans or texts

Posted: Sat Oct 14, 2006 1:26 pm
by shawn
One of the most difficult, far-reaching, and overlooked parts of educating is selecting the materials to help educate.
It's difficult because there's too much out there that address the common objectives, and too little out there that addresses new objectives. It's far reaching, because different materials appeal to different students, so the selection is reflected in future choices of those students. The selection of materials is often left, intentionally or not, to a subset of educators given charge over the presented curriculum. I've had a high-school principal tell me that they had money for such-and-such lab-kits so they bought them for me without consulting the objectives of my course.
So, when we select new materials for a course, how do we know what impact the materials will have on our course and on the students?
One method I've seen is to attend a workshop of colleagues, with at least one who has worked with the materials and measured their effects. What portion of your curriculum came into your courses through this method?
In what other ways are new curricula introduced, and how often is the new curricula certified to work before placed in the classroom?
To put it negatively, how much content or material is put in place based on wishful thinking?