Below I will identify several concrete claims made by the Courses-as-seeds document which can be used to evaluate courses offered in that model, like the DLC and ATLAS courses.

“Courses-as-seeds aims to create a culture based on a “designer mindset” that emphasizes habits and tools that empower students to actively contribute to the design of their education (and eventually to the design of the their lives and communities).”
“Courses-as-seeds is an educational model that attempts to create a culture of collective inquiry that is situated in the context of the university courses, and yet extends beyond the temporal boundaries of semester-based classes.”

Two important claims are embedded in these statements:

1. Courses-as-seeds will create a culture (of self-directed learners).

If a culture (a set ideas, beliefs, customs, rituals, and artifacts) exists, then it must be constructed (enacted, transmitted, continuously reinscribed) by the actions of a group of people.

Is there such a group? Does it include at least some of the participants in courses-as-seeds who wouldn’t otherwise be part of that group? The best way to begin to answer these questions is just to ask the instructors and other knowledgeable participants, whose membership in that cultural group we should be confident of.

2. Participants in courses-as-seeds will acquire tools and habits that enable them to be self-directed learners.

What are these tools and habits? Here are a few ideas:

Questionnaires and structured interviews would both be excellent ways of finding out whether students gained these tools and habits, especially if they were done at the beginning and at the end of a course so that we could compare.

“The essential aspects of the model are… that these learning processes are embedded in collaborative activities supported by innovative technologies.”
“The predominant mode of learning is peer-to-peer, while the teacher acts as a “guide on the side” rather than as a “sage on the stage.” Courses are reconceptualized as seeds that are jointly evolved by all participants.”
“The knowledge to understand, frame, and solve design problems does not exist a priori, but is constructed and evolved by exploiting the power of the “symmetry of ignorance” and “breakdowns”. ”

These statements and others support two further claims:

3. Collaboration is a central skill area for courses-as-seeds.

Students should have learned and practiced ways of collaborating to solve design problems.

Students’ self-assesments in interviews or questionnaires may help us evaluate the course’s success in this area to some extent. However, concrete skill assesment is also feasible and may be a convincing compliment to self-assesment. Elementary school teachers do this (Chris works well with others……[S-] ) and are able to document improvements. It may be more difficult at the university level, but it may not. Fabricated ‘collaboration exercises’ with specific grading criterea are a possibility and so is ongoing assessment based on a professor’s observations of real collaborative work.

4. Courses-as-seeds are jointly evolved by all participants. articipants in these courses exploit the symmetry of ignorance to solve design problems.

If the direction of these courses is not predetermined, any given participant, including the instructor, is likely to learn something new.

One way to find out if this is really going on in these courses is, again, to ask the professors. What did the professor learn, discounting those things that no student also learned?
Of course, students will also have knowledge of this which could be elicited with interviews or questionnaires given during or after the course. A third way of evaluating courses’ evolution is to analyze the participants’ uses of time, materials (readings, etc.) used, and artifacts produced.

I know I haven’t done exactly what you asked for here. In particular I wasn’t very explicit about the things that would support / falsify these claims and whether those things could be found in the questionnaires. I’ve meant to rewrite this but I’m short on tiime and I’m not sure how useful it would really be. Can we talk about this next time we meet?
The short answer about the questionnaires is that I don’t think they tell us enough and that what they do say is mixed. See my notes for more detail and tell me if you want me to do more.