This paper adopts data envelopment analysis (DEA), a robust and reliable evaluation method widely applied in various fields to explore the key indicators contributing to the learning performance of English freshmen writing courses in a university of Taiwan from the academic year 2004 to 2006. The results of DEA model applied in learning performance change our original viewpoint and reveal that some decision-making units (DMUs) with higher actual values of inputs and outputs have lower efficiency because the relative efficiency of each DMU is measured by their distance to the efficiency frontier. DMUs may refer to different facet reference sets according to their actual values located in lower or higher ranges. In the managerial strategy of educational field, the paper can encourage inefficient DMUs to always compare themselves with efficient DMUs in their range and make improvement little by little. The results of DEA model can also give clear indicators and the percentage of which input and output items to improve. The paper also demonstrates that the benchmarking characteristics of the DEA model can automatically segment all the DMUs into different levels based on the indicators fed into the performance evaluation mechanism. The efficient DMUs on the frontier curve can be considered as the boundaries of the classification which are systematically defined by the DEA model according to the statistic distribution.
Expert Systems with Applications, Vol.38, No.12, pp.14542-14549