Evaluation of Teaching

Just as I am about to convene a group to review how we capture student feedback on modules, and try to find a more uniform way of doing it across faculties, then this interesting article appeared in the Higher, by John Colley of Nottingham University Business School.

Dr Colley considers how universities could improve student satisfaction, recognising that NSS scores have steadily risen over the years.

Firstly he identifies student evaluation of modules, and then discusses the more contentious issue of student evaluation of teaching.

“Unsurprisingly, SET is not universally popular with academics, some of whom yearn for the days when there was no objective way to assess their teaching effectiveness. Some staff are less than cooperative about the process and not all teaching is assessed, but one could argue that SET gives universities access to a tool that could be more fully exploited.”

He also points out that even when poor teaching is identified, then it’s very difficult for universities to do anything about it.

So two anecdotes. Last time I looked at evaluation of teaching, there was uproar that anyone other than the member of staff teaching could see the feedback forms from students. And secondly, I once carried out a peer observation of teaching. I was horrified, so were the students. I reported my findings to the head of subject. The outcome- nothing. For several more years students were given very poor teaching.

In a university that focuses on teaching, I believe that we need to really get to grips with this. If we want to improve student attainment, we need to know how teaching is being received by our students.

3 thoughts on “Evaluation of Teaching

  1. That is the type of info that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for now not positioning this higher up! Come on over and discuss with my web site. Thanks =)

  2. There are some obvious political issues surrounding SET, but I for one am interested to know whether my teaching & learning activities are achieving the desired effect. To this end, capturing student feedback during the module (instead of at the end when it is largely too late) seems like a very worthwhile thing to do. It is something that I have already planned to do this term. I’ve definitely been infected with the PgCHPE virus.

    Taking a slightly wider view, listening to the Student Voice on all issues is worthwhile. I recently made a presentation on this.

  3. Graham, I think you’ve identified the key point – as a practising academic, you recognise the need to see if your activity has the desired effect. Unless we are prepared be both reflective, and responsive to feedback, we will find it hard to make individual changes or institutional improvements

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