Methods for evaluating educational programs: Does Writing Center Participation affect student achievement?

Carsten Crede, Sebastian Otten, Julia Bredtmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This paper evaluates the effectiveness of the introduction of a Writing Center at a university, which aims at improving students’ scientific writing abilities. In order to deal with the presumed limited utility of student feedback surveys for evaluating the effectiveness of educational programs, we use students’ actual learning outcomes as our quality measure. Based on this objective measure, different statistical evaluation methods established in the labor market treatment literature are applied. We present and discuss the validity of these methods to evaluate educational programs and compare the results of these approaches to implications obtained using corresponding student surveys. Although almost all students reported the writing courses to be helpful, we find no significant effect of course participation on students’ grades. This result highlights the need for institutions not to rely solely on student course evaluations for evidence-based policy decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013


  • Educational programs
  • Student evaluation
  • Empirical methods
  • Writing Center
  • Student self-perception
  • Institutional assessment
  • Evidence-based policy

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