Guidelines for the enhancement and evaluation of courses and teaching

These Guidelines are updated in June 2023 to reflect changes made to SET – for Quarters 3 and 4, and Semester 2 2023.

This information supports teachers to fulfil the requirements of the Enhancement and Evaluation of Courses and Teaching Policy and Procedures (the “Policy”) – and in particular, how to meet the requirements for:

Formative evaluations Summative evaluations Course reviews

Which may include:

Which include:

Which include:

  • Class reps
  • Peer observation
  • Direct feedback from students
  • SET
  • 'Closing the loop' feedback to students
  • Reflections on the course
  • Planning for improvements
  • Advising future students - on Digital Course Outlines (DCO)

These Guidelines integrate these 3 components of the Policy and recommend a holistic approach to engaging with student feedback and enhancing course quality through reflective practice.

Formative Evaluation

Formative, informal feedback is a valuable and ongoing source of student input regarding teaching practice and course content and delivery. It is normally conducted during course delivery, early enough to enable staff to incorporate the feedback directly into the course.

Students will appreciate the opportunity to give feedback; they will see that their feedback is valued, and will view this as a demonstration of their teachers' commitment to their learning.

The Policy does not specify any specific form of formative evaluation. Teachers are free to use whatever is appropriate for their course. Further advice may be found on the Education Office webpage: Formative evaluations.

Peer observation and review

Peer observation and review is a collaborative undertaking in which academic colleagues work together to improve teaching practices; and it is strongly encouraged as an ongoing component of reflective practice for all teaching staff.

Peer observation and review may be conducted to support a new staff member, or it may form part of an evidential teaching portfolio submitted for the Academic Development and Performance Reviews, Continuation Reviews, promotion applications, or to support teaching award processes.

For further advice see: Peer review of teaching

Class Representatives

Every course has a class representative (“class rep”), and each academic unit has a Student-Staff Consultative Committee (SSCC). These are specified by the Class Representation Policy and class reps are trained and supported by the AUSA.

Class reps are responsible for obtaining feedback from their peers, and to report this to the SSCC. To do this they will undertake their own evaluations, and these may include questionnaire surveys. That is their prerogative – since they are independent and are required to consult with their peers.

Class reps may be valuable allies in formative evaluations. Engaging with your class reps, seeking their feedback, and assisting them in their roles is an important component of formative evaluation. Following up on their feedback and communicating with students is good practice and closes the loop.

Summative Evaluations - Courses and Teaching

Please note important changes to SET from Quarter 3 and 4, and Semester 2, 2023.

The Policy requires summative evaluations of:

  • Courses - every course, each time that they are offered, and
  • Teaching - each teacher in these courses.

SET – ‘Summative Evaluation Tool’ – is the University’s centrally-implemented survey for course and teaching evaluations. It is run by the Academic Quality Office during standard evaluation periods for all eligible courses and teachers.

There are eligibility criteria for courses to be included in SET. For instance, courses need to have at least 10 enrolled students; courses with between 5-9 enrolled students may use the SET template in Qualtrics instead.

Course evaluation questionnaires and reports

SET course evaluations are changing from Semester 2, 2023. In each case, there will be:

  • Only one scaled question: “Overall, I was satisfied with the quality of this course.”
  • The other scaled questions will be dropped.
  • Two open-ended questions:
    • “Overall, what aspects of the course were most helpful for your learning?” and
    • “Overall, what did you find the most challenging about learning in this course, and do you have any suggestions for improvements?”

Summary reports are prepared for each course and include summary statistics for students’ overall satisfaction and students’ comments - without revealing their identities.

Course evaluation reports are made available to teaching staff, Course Directors according to CS9*, academic heads, Associate Deans Academic, Associate Deans Learning and Teaching and Deans. These reports are not confidential. Summary statistics may be shared with students but care should be taken with students’ comments. It is recommended that feedback should focus on the themes covered in comments – rather than sharing whole comments.

*Note: SET only considers Course Directors nominated within the CS9 system, and this nomination is part of the examination process.

Teaching evaluation questionnaires and reports

SET teaching evaluations are changing from Semester 2, 2023. In each case, there will be:

  • Only one scaled question: “Overall, [teacher’s name]’s teaching was effective.”
  • The other scaled questions will be dropped.
  • Two open-ended questions:
    • “What was it about [teacher name]'s teaching, that you found most helpful for your learning?” and
    • “What suggestions do you have that would enhance [teacher name]'s teaching?”

Summary reports are prepared for each teacher and include summary statistics for the scaled question and students’ comments - without revealing their identities.

Teaching reports are confidential to individual teachers, their academic head, their Dean, Associate Dean Academic, and the Associate Dean Learning and Teaching. To protect student anonymity, teaching reports are only distributed for 5 or more responses. Academic Heads, Associate Deans Academic, Associate Deans Learning and Teaching, and Deans will receive the result of the scaled question in aggregated reporting.

SET results form part of the evidence included in Academic Career Portfolios, which are required for promotion and continuation. It is only partial evidence and must be interpreted in context, explained, and combined with other information.

SET evaluation periods

SET evaluation periods for semesters are being changed. For semesters, SET will now run for the last two weeks of teaching plus the Study Break. For Summer School and Quarters, SET will continue to run for the last week or the last two weeks of teaching, respectively.

Encouraging students’ participation

Encourage students to complete SET by giving feedback on both the previous years’ SET and any formative evaluations in the current course. You may share course SET scores, and you may give a summary of their comments. It is helpful also to advise students on changes that have been made in response.

‘Closing the loop’ with students’ feedback is good practice. It demonstrably respects students’ voices, and will encourage their participation and increase response rates.

Course reviews

The Policy requires every course to be reviewed after each offering; and includes:

“…evaluative reflection on course structure, content and delivery; assessment; learning outcomes; student feedback; staffing, resources and facilities.”

Faculties have different requirements for the format of course reviews, and most provide template documents or online forms.

Assistance and resources

Further assistance on these Guidelines and the evaluations processes is available from the Academic Quality Office

Document management and control

Owner: Director of Learning and Teaching
Content manager: Manager, Academic Quality Advisor
Approved by: Pro Vice-Chancellor Education
Date approved: 13 June 2023
Review date: 13 June 2028