Evaluate to improve: useful approaches to student evaluation. Clinton Golding & Lee Adam (2014)
Many teachers in higher education use feedback from students to evaluate their
teaching, but only some use these evaluations to improve their teaching. One
important factor that makes the difference is the teacher’s approach to their
evaluations. In this article, we identify some useful approaches for improving
teaching. We conducted focus groups with award-winning university teachers
who use student evaluations to improve their teaching, and we identified how
they approach their evaluation data. We found that these teachers take a reflective
approach, aiming for constant improvement, and see their evaluation data as
formative feedback, useful for improving learning outcomes for their students.
We summarise this as the improvement approach, and we offer it for other
teachers to emulate. We argue that if teachers take this reflective, formative, student-
centred approach, they can also use student evaluations to improve their
teaching, and this approach should be fostered by institutions to encourage more
teachers to use student evaluations to improve their teaching.
Tertiary teachers and student evaluations: never the twain shall meet? Sarah J. Stein , Dorothy Spiller , Stuart Terry , Trudy Harris , Lynley Deaker & Jo Kennedy (2013)
Internationally, centralised systems of student evaluation have become normative
practice in higher education institutions, providing data for monitoring teaching
quality and for teacher professional development. While extensive research has
been done on student evaluations, there is less research-based evidence about
teachers’ perceptions of and engagement with student evaluations, the focus of
the research reported in this paper. An interpretive approach framed the study in
which data were gathered through questionnaire and interview responses from
teaching staff at three New Zealand tertiary institutions. Results highlighted the
general acceptance of the notion of student evaluations, recurring ideas about
the limitations of evaluations and significant gaps in the way academics engage
with student evaluation feedback. Recommendations for enhancing teacher
engagement with student evaluation are made to optimise the potential for
student evaluations to inform teaching development and to improve students’
Unlocking the impact of tertiary teachers’ perceptions of student evaluations of teaching
This research project spanned two years (2010-11) and was a collaboration between three tertiary institutions: University of Otago, University of Waikato and Otago Polytechnic. It was supported through the Ako Aotearoa National Project Fund.
The key findings and recommendations for practice and change are summarised in a Summary Guide Using student evaluations to enhance teaching practice: Closing the loop. This and the full research report can be downloaded from the Ako Aotearoa website.