Formal, experimental methods have proved increasingly difficult to implement, and lack the capacity to generate detailed results when evaluating the impact of CAL on teaching and learning. The rigid nature of experimental design restricts the scope of investigations and the conditions in which studies can be conducted It has also consistently failed to account for all influences on learning. In innovative CAL environments, practical and theoretical development depends on the ability fully to investigate the wide range of such influences. Over the past five years, a customizable evaluation framework has been developed specifically for CAL research. The conceptual approach is defined as Situated Evaluation of CAL (SECAL), and the primary focus is on quality of learning outcomes. Two important principles underpin this development. First, the widely accepted need to evaluate in authentic contexts includes examination of the combined effects of CAL with other resources and influential aspects of the learning environment. Secondly, evaluation design is based on a critical approach and qualitative, case‐based research. Positive outcomes from applications of SECAL include the easy satisfaction of practical and situation‐specific requirements and the relatively low cost of evaluation studies. Although there is little scope to produce generalizable results in the short term, the difficulty of doing so in experimental studies suggests that this objective is difficult to achieve in educational research. A more realistic, longer‐term aim is the development of grounded theory based on common findings from individual cases
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