Evaluation research

Journal Articles:

Can you increase teacher engagement with evaluation simply by improving the evaluation system? Adon Moskal, Sarah Stein & Clinton Golding (2015)

We know various factors can influence how teaching staff engage with student evaluation, such as institutional policies or staff beliefs. However, little research has investigated the influence of the technical processes of an evaluation system. In this article, we present a case study of the effects of changing the technical system for administering student evaluations at one New Zealand university. We develop a socio-technical model of the institutional evaluation system, and use this model to examine whether introducing an online system for ordering student feedback questionnaires and reducing processing time influenced academic staff engagement with evaluation. Survey responses, interview comments and data about ordering trends suggest the change did increase staff engagement by: (1) improving staff perceptions of evaluation and (2) increasing engaged behaviour, such as voluntarily ordering more evaluations. The outcomes of this study imply that the ‘practical implementation’ of an evaluation system is an important factor in influencing engagement with evaluation. We conclude that we can increase teacher engagement with evaluation simply by improving the ‘practical implementation’ of the evaluation system.

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’ learning experiences.

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.