Curriculum evaluation


Formative evaluation

Curriculum developers use a cyclical approach to increase the quality of the product.  In order to test the quality of draft products and to gain suggestions for improvement, data is collected during formative evaluation activities. Planning and conducting formative evaluation activities take  a number of steps.

For a closer look at this iterative or cyclical curriculum development approach, please have a look at the following 2-minute clip:


Evaluation Matchboard

To support the planning of formative evaluation Nieveen, Folmer and Vliegen (2012) developed the 'Evaluation Matchboard'.

Please refer to the following source for more details: Nieveen, N., & Folmer, E. (2013). Formative evaluation in educational design research. In T. Plomp, & N. Nieveen (Eds.), Part A: Introduction to Educational Design Research. Enschede: SLO.

The back of the matchboard provides the definitions of the various development stages, the quality criteria, the methods and the activities. Also the generic educational design research model is presented and the curricular spider's web is given.

Brief instructions for using the Evaluation Matchboard:

  1. Decide on your formative evaluation question

    For each cycle or iteration in the development phase of an intervention, the kind of value judgment (focus on one or more quality criteria) together with the development stage of the intervention (design proposal, global design, partly-detailed or completed product) provide the building blocks for the main question(s) of the formative evaluation (of a specific cycle or iteration).
    The syntax of these questions is: ‘What is the [quality criterion a, b, c, d, e, and/or f] of the prototype that is in [development stage w, x, y, z]. 
     For example: What is the relevancy [quality criterion] of the content of a quick reference manual for using Chinese characters that is in a global design stage [development stage]?
  2. Use the Evaluation Matchboard for finding appropriate evaluation methods and activities

    When using the matchboard one needs to combine the stage of development (prototype) [1] with a quality aspect [2] in order to find an appropriate evaluation method [4] with relevant data collection activities [5].

For example, if design researchers will evaluate a partly detailed product and they wish to focus the formative evaluation on the expected practicality of this prototype, then the matchboard shows a 'match in colors' with respect to a focus group (blue) and a walkthrough (orange), both being suitable methods for this combination of development stage and quality criteria.

When deciding to organize a focus group, the matchboard recommends that data can be collected by interviewing the respondents. In case of organizing a walkthrough also using a checklist and carrying out observations are suitable data collection activities according to the matchboard.

More information

For more information about Evaluation and Educational design research please refer to the following publication:, or contact one of the following persons:

​Name​E-mail​Telephone number
​Nienke Nieveen