Enhancement and Evaluation Courses and Teaching Guidelines


Application


These guidelines apply to all staff members and students of the University

Purpose


To provide further guidance for staff members and students about the collection of evidence within the framework for the enhancement, evaluation and quality assurance of teaching and courses delivered by the University

 

This information allows staff members to fulfil the requirements of the Enhancement and Evaluation of Courses and Teaching Policy and the processes set out in the Enhancement and Evaluation of Courses and Teaching Procedures 

Background


The University is committed to creating and maintaining an exemplary learning and teaching environment

These guidelines will assist teaching staff and students to identify and use good practice in the use of different types of formative and summative evaluation of teaching

These guidelines cover student feedback through formative evaluation, including self and peer-review of teaching; and through summative evaluation of courses and teaching

Guidelines


Formative Evaluation

  • Formative, informal feedback is a valuable and on-going source of student input regarding teaching practice and course content and delivery.  Formative evaluation is normally conducted during course delivery, early enough to enable staff to incorporate the feedback directly into the course
  • However, teachers may conduct end-of-course formative evaluations to investigate specific issues.  These formative evaluations are not included in the University’s formal, summative evaluations process.
  • If a formative evaluation exercise is conducted at the end of a course which is also scheduled for summative evaluation, teaching staff will explain to students the different purposes of each survey, and communicate the importance of both.
  • Formative evaluation provides real-time information as teaching and courses are delivered, supporting the ongoing educational partnership with students.  Formative evaluation can capture information on aspects of courses which cannot be provided through summative evaluations.  It is therefore strongly encouraged as a standard component of all teaching and course delivery
  • Students believe that teachers who use formative evaluation are committed to good outcomes for students and to improving their teaching.  Formative evaluation may also help contribute to better response rates for summative evaluation exercises
  • A Guide for Staff on Formative Evaluation is available on the Evaluations website

Peer input

  • Peer observation and review is a collaborative undertaking in which academic colleagues work together to understand and improve teaching practices through feedback and discussion.  It is strongly encouraged as an on-going component of reflective practice for all academic staff and contributes to the development of teaching capacity as a voluntary, formative and collegial process
  • A peer observation exercise may be conducted whenever staff wishes to have feedback by colleagues in the interest of best practice
  • Peer observation may also be conducted in support of a new staff member, or it may form part of an evidential Teaching Portfolio submitted for an Annual Performance Review, continuation or promotion, or for teaching awards
  • The Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education provides further information, guidance, observation templates and assistance with peer input: Guide to Peer Review of Teaching

Self-reflection

  • Reflection and reflective practice are essential critical components in the development of teaching expertise and expert teachers
  • Observational data gained from self-reflection, as well as peer review and student evaluative data, enable staff to examine their practice reflectively and reflexively in a continuous manner
  • Academic staff reflect on their teaching contributions, set goals and objectives for teaching in the following year, and identify any assistance needed to achieve those goals, as part of the Academic Performance Review (APR)
  • Further self-reflective activities, such as the creation of a teaching portfolio and participation in a course review, will contribute to the APR and may also form part of an application for continuation and promotion
  • A teaching portfolio is a formal, verifiable record of work and contains self-reflective components such as a teaching philosophy
  • The Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education provides information, guidance, exemplars and assistance that may assist in the development of a teaching portfolio

Teaching portfolios (Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education)

  • Mentoring for staff new to teaching at the University of Auckland includes support to develop teaching capacities
  • This should normally include a peer review and observation within the first two years of teaching

Course review

  • Course review prompts teaching staff to reflect on all aspects of course structure, content, delivery and assessment, examining what went well and what changes are required.
  • Course review also provides the opportunity to re-assess the appropriateness of learning outcomes, review feedback from any evaluations conducted that semester, and discuss plans for the course
  • The completed course review accompanied by the course outline issued to students, copies of tests, assignments and exams, mark sheets, and course evaluations (if applicable) forms a useful package of information about the course that is held by academic heads
  • The University course review template may be modified to suit the specific requirements of different faculties

Other feedback

  • Students may contribute feedback concerning courses and teaching via their class representative
  • Every course has a student representative, and each academic unit has a Staff-Student Consultative Committee
  • Student comments and suggestions may be reported to the SSCC by class representatives
  • For further information, please consult the Class Representation Policy and Class Representation Guidelines

Summative Evaluation (Course and Teaching Evaluations)

  • The opportunity for students to participate in an anonymous end-of-course summative survey providing feedback regarding courses and teachers is an important aspect of the learning and teaching process
  • These evaluations serve an important quality assurance role as detailed in the Enhancement and Evaluation of Courses and Teaching Policy and Enhancement and Evaluation of Courses and Teaching Procedures
  • In addition, the survey results, along with other inputs such as self-reflection and feedback from peers, provide critical insights which help refine and develop a course and its delivery in future iterations
  • Student feedback, received through course and teaching evaluations, is carefully analysed and considered by teachers, course directors and academic heads with results reported to deans, and to the DVC (A) by the Planning and Quality Office. The DVC (A) meets with faculty deans to discuss overall results
  • Students should be informed of any changes to a course which are based on feedback from previous iterations of the course.  This ensures students understand the importance of evaluations and their role in the development of courses and teachers. Students are also more likely to participate in surveys when teachers and faculty explain how the data is utilised and can provide examples of change

Evaluation questionnaires

Evaluation frequency

  • The University’s minimum requirement for course and teaching evaluation for established courses and teachers is at least once every three years
  • This frequency requirement has been set to balance the need for evaluation information against the risk of over-evaluation, which risks higher levels of student non-participation, affecting response rates
  • Faculties may request additional evaluations where a course has been revised.  Individual teaching staff may request additional evaluations where evaluation information is required for individual career purposes

Tutoring and tutorials

  • Tutors, graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) and demonstrators are exempt from the requirement to conduct formal, summative evaluations
  • Tutors, GTAs and demonstrators should use formative methods to gain feedback on their individual teaching
  • Students are asked to rate the overall quality of the small-group teaching associated with a course
  • The course director will review and use this information as one means of assessing the quality of delivery in these areas

Maximising response rates

  • At the beginning of a course students should be informed of any changes based on feedback from the last time the course was evaluated.  This ensures students understand the importance of evaluations and their role in the development of courses and teaching
  • Students are more likely to participate in surveys when teachers explain how the data is used, and can provide examples of change
  • Teaching staff have an important role to encourage students to complete course and teaching evaluations.  In-class discussion about the survey contributes to response rates
  • A number of resources are available on the Evaluations Website to use in class, including PowerPoint slides to use in class at the start of the evaluation period; and a suggested text for a spoken announcement
  • Teaching staff may choose to provide students with the opportunity to complete evaluations in class, where computers or mobile devices are available
  • It may be helpful to put aside time at the beginning of a lecture, so that students are not asked to complete a voluntary task when they might wish to leave
  • In-class delivery helps to maximise response rates, while still allowing students the flexibility to give feedback in their own time if they prefer
  • Promotion of evaluations is conducted in advance of and during evaluation periods through the Planning and Quality Office. Individual staff may promote evaluations to students through Canvas
  • Reports will be available before the end of the course and it is expected that students will be given the teacher’s overall impression of the results, as well as what actions may be taken to address them.  This could be done through in-class discussion, through Canvas or by email
  • Using formative evaluation techniques during the course can help students to understand that their constructive feedback is important, and is acted upon.  This in turn can help to maximise response rates for summative evaluation

See also Quick Guide for Staff – Maximising Course and Teaching Evaluation Response Rates

 

Use of summative evaluation results

  • Summative evaluation results form one strand of the information used by academic staff to assess the quality of a course and course delivery
  • Other sources of information include formative evaluation, peer and self-review, and course review
  • Evaluation reports contain quantitative data – a statistical summary of the class response to each of the rated questions; and a compilation of responses to open-ended questions
  • The response rate can be an indicator of the quality of the feedback, as a low response rate may affect validity, especially in smaller classes
  • The summary of the quantitative results can be used to gain an overall impression or ‘flag’ areas that may be worth investigating. For each item, the percentage of general agreement (Agree + Strongly Agree) should be at least 70%
  • A relatively high percentage of general disagreement (D +SD) may indicate an issue with a course or teaching, especially if this result is repeated over several evaluations
  • The mean is calculated using the following numerical scores:

Rating

Score

Strongly disagree (SD)

1

Disagree (D)

2

Neutral (N)

3

Agree (A)

4

Strongly agree (SA)

5

Not applicable (NA)

Not included in the calculation of mean scores

  • Qualitative data (the student comments) can provide further detail for issues identified in the quantitative summary.  It is important to read all the comments and note where students respond positively, as well as where they have suggestions for improvement.  Teachers may choose to:
    • act upon a suggestion where there is sufficient evidence in the feedback, and an action can practically improve the student experience
    • compromise, where students have made a suggestion that may seem impractical, but which can be addressed in another way; or
    • reject a suggestion
  • For each of these responses, students should be informed and given the context for the decision
  • Talking through results with a colleague can be valuable

Using the reports for career purposes

  • Teaching evaluation data, both quantitative and qualitative, can be used as evidence to support promotion and award portfolios. Teaching evaluation results can illustrate where a change to practice was made in response to feedback and show development as a teacher over time

Assistance and resources

Definitions


The following definitions apply to this document:

Course Review is a review, involving all academic staff contributing to a course, conducted after the end of each delivery of the course

Formative evaluation is in-course feedback gathered by a variety of means during course delivery to understand how students are responding to the course and the teaching methods

Pass rates are the percentage of the enrolled students in a course who gain a pass grade.  Enrolments are measured in EFTS.  All students who remain enrolled after the deadline for deletion of enrolments are included in the calculation of pass rates

Peer observation and review is normally a collaborative process in which academic partners work together to understand and improve their teaching practices

Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis

Summative evaluation of courses and teaching is formal evaluation using the standardised University survey instrument

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries

Document management and control


Owner: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

Content manager: Senior Academic Quality Advisor

Approved by: Council

Date approved:  

Review date: February 2018