Evaluating your teaching and curriculum practice, and the experience of students, can be done for multiple purposes and at a range of different levels.

It's important in any evaluation process to be clear about what you want to know about your teaching and student learning and ways that you can obtain this information.

It's useful to incorporate multiple ways to gather feedback on your teaching, and to maintain records so that you can utilise the evaluation, and subsequent actions in a process of continuous improvement and for promotion and publication purposes.

This guide focuses on the most common ways that teachers gather and document evidence about the quality of their teaching, the design of curriculum and student participation and engagement. The different types of evaluations below should not be seen in isolation but as complementary.

Self-evaluation

All teachers should engage with self-evaluation or reflective practice to improve their teaching and their students’ learning experiences. Student expectations can often differ from a teachers and it's useful to discuss with your students what they understand about their learning.

Self-evaluation and reflection can be quite informal; however it is useful to document how you are doing this and the outcomes in some way.

This might be through an electronic or paper-based journal or portfolio. Information to document could include:

  • how well your unit objectives were met;
  • teaching and learning activities that work and those that don’t;
  • student responses to assessment tasks.

Video-taping a lecture or class and watching it back with the above points in mind also enables good reflection on in class activity.

Questions to guide practice

  • How am I collecting feedback on my teaching?
  • Is this feedback providing me with information to improve my teaching practice?
  • What actions am I taking based on this feedback?

Peer evaluation

Peer review of teaching is increasingly being recognised as a valued evaluation strategy. Having a well-qualified peer to observe your teaching can be used for both formative feedback and discussion about strategies, as well as for more formal evaluation purposes.

The most common experience reported from peer evaluations is that both the observer and observee learn a lot from the process. Peer reviews are also often conducted of teaching materials and online resources. This is common practice at VU as part of the course development and course monitoring processes. 

At VU the Peer Teaching Exchange program (PTE) program is designed to expand on common collegial sharing of teaching practice by providing support and links across disciplines and colleges.  

Student evaluation at Victoria University

All universities have external reporting requirements for quality assurance purposes. Student evaluations of teaching using a standardised instrument across the institution are generally used for this purpose and are administered at the end of each teaching period.

Although there is a compliance element to the use of Student Evaluations of Teaching and Units, information gathered this way also provides useful feedback on your teaching.

Similarly there are a range of surveys often administered externally about the student experience and the course experience. The results of these surveys also provide valuable information to teachers to improve the learning environment of your students.

Summative student evaluation of a unit, focusing on day-to-day experiences of a particular teacher or teaching team, conducted at the end of a teaching session, each semester.

Locally developed formative instruments can also be a used to supplement summative data.

Find out more about the Student Evaluation of teaching (SET) and Student Evaluation of Unit (SEU).

Students’ retrospective evaluation of whole-of-program experiences. Typically conducted post-graduation.

Find out more about the Current Research Experience Questionnaire (CREQ) and Quality Indicators – Learner Engagement.

Students document behaviours, experiences within and beyond the formal curriculum.

Some of these surveys specifically target year levels or student group.

Find out more about the Student Experience Survey (SES).

View the full list of key surveys conducted at VU.

While formal surveys are used for the whole student cohort, useful information can also be obtained from simply observing and talking to your students about their engagement and learning experience, or running student focus groups.

At VU, student focus groups are often used as part of the comprehensive course review process, but can also be run to find out more about student experience in particular units.

Using data to inform practice

It is important to remember that the information gathered through evaluation is about improving teaching and learning and the quality of the student experience.

Giving students information on how their feedback is making a difference is as important as collecting it and indicates to students the value of providing feedback to their teachers and the university.

Questions

  • What am I doing with the feedback I collect from my students?
  • Are you closing the loop on teaching evaluations with your students?
  • Are there gaps in the information you are getting on your students’ experiences in your unit and if so, how can you get this feedback?

Resources

Biggs, J & Tang, C 2007 Teaching for quality learning at university, 3rd edition, Berkshire: SRHE & OUP

Crisp, G, Sadler, R, Krause, K, Buckridge, M, Wills, S, Brown, C, Mclean, J, Dalton, H, LeLievre, K & Brougham, B 2009, Peer review of teaching for promotion purposes, Australian Teaching and Learning Council, Sydney

Harris, K, Farrell, K, Bell, M, Devlin M & James, R 2008, Peer review of teaching in Australian higher education: resources to support institutions in developing and embedding effective policies and practices, Australian Learning and Teaching Council, Sydney

Krause, K 2012 ‘A quality approach to university teaching’, in Hunt, L. & Chalmers, D. (eds), University teaching in focus – A learning-centred approach, ACER Press, Camberwell