As a lowly graduate student, I'm on a committee (I'm not sure how important my role really is) trying to evaluate how effective different approaches teaching undergraduates. We are looking at all sorts of methods like the standard lecturing style seen in most schools, the Moore method, a Dewey/Montessori approach, Polya, etc. Now, my question is this: how do you go about developing some sort of effective criteria evaluating these different approaches?
One of the reasons I'm asking is that I'm sitting on the committee with another graduate student, and we were discussing what we thought about our measure theory class. It was taught in a slightly different manner; basically the students gave the lectures to one another. Our prof sat in the back and would occasionally ask a question directing us to a subtle point or an important topic to be covered. Now, I loved the class. It was challenging and forced me to work very hard to understand the material. Further, I enjoyed reconstructing the entire theory with my classmates. And being asked pointed questions by my prof was traumatizing but also very good preparation for my quals. Now, in contrast, my classmate didn't like the method at all, felt it went too slow, and he didn't think that many of the standard tricks, techniques or approaches that one ought to get out the class is what he actually got out of it. I'm not interested in debating the merits of our respective conclusions, but what I am interested in is developing some sort of analysis that would help us objectively evaluate various approaches/methods to teaching students. Our dept is looking at implementing some of these methods next academic year. We'd like to come up with a way of objectively evaluating the a particular method based off of firmer ground than anecdotal evidence and end of semester surveys. In sum, I was wondering if anybody here had experience in this area of curriculum analysis/development? If so I'd love to hear about it.
I hope this question isn't too far off from the mainstream questions of MO.