Kudos for new teaching, course evaluation approach

November 05, 2013
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The official verdict may not be in, but early response to a small-scale demonstration of a new approach to teaching and course evaluation this past summer is definitely upbeat.

“The format was super easy to use and the results are presented in a way that’s visually friendly and easy to understand,” says Becky Cox, assistant professor in the Faculty of Education and one of 14 Teaching and Course Evaluation (TCE) project proof-of-concept volunteers. “I feel really positive about the direction this is going.”  

Panayiotis Pappas, associate professor in SFU’s linguistics department, says the TCE project proof-of-concept system is not only easy to use, the information “really gets to the substance of what a university education is all about, and it’s actionable too.”

After only one day with the 18-page proof-of-concept evaluation report, Pappas was already planning changes that will enhance the teaching and learning experience in his courses.

Unlike the current paper-based system, with its one-size-fits-all questions, the emerging proposed online framework inspired by the University of Toronto allows different stakeholders to customize certain sections for relevancy.

Evaluations, for example, are divided into institution-level, faculty-level, department-level and instructor-level questions.

“I used iClickers for the first time in my lectures this summer,” says Pappas “and the proof-of-concept system allowed me to ask whether these devices enhanced the students' learning experience.”

Corinne-Pitre Hayes, who leads the TCE project, says that kind of feedback is exactly what she was hoping for from proof-of-concept volunteers. Her team spent months reviewing current research and best practices, as well as consulting with stakeholders including students, faculty and departmental administrators.

“The proof-of-concept this summer was the final step in the TCE project before we draft a report with recommendations, which we’d like to submit to the Senate by the end of 2013,” she says.

“The hope is that we’ll have a new system in place across the university in the not-too-distant future.”

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