Teaching evaluation reforms underway

October 06, 2011
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SFU is proceeding with a plan for implementing the recommendations of the Senate Committee on Teaching and Learning (SCUTL) report prepared in 2008.

The report, titled “Evaluating how we evaluate”, concluded, “There is a potential for valuable and useful information to be collected through student evaluations… but current forms and practices are hindering these well-intentioned efforts.”

It recommended that SFU should develop or obtain:

  • New course and instructor evaluation forms
  • A best-practices guide for conducting student course and teaching evaluations
  • A best-practices guide for using information collected through student evaluations for administrative and operational purposes.
  • Support for responding to student evaluations of courses and instructors.

The recommendations were adopted by the university’s Task Force on Teaching and Learning in January 2010 and VP Academic Jon Driver submitted a plan for implementing the recommendations to the senate in March 2011.

Driver’s plan called for SCUTL to provide project oversight, with input from instructors on any development of new evaluation methods. It also set parameters, calling for separate assessment tools for instructors and courses, a range of instruments suitable for different educational settings such as large classes, field work, etc.

The plan also stresses the need for core questions with customizable options, and best-practice guidelines for efficient and secure data collection and storage.

And it emphasizes the need to ensure “that new forms of evaluation do not create new workload for instructors and academic departments, and that they do not stifle creativity.”

The plan is now proceeding, and hiring of a researcher and writer is underway. The process is expected to last up to a year, and a website detailing progress will be launched in the coming weeks. Consultations within the SFU community will start shortly thereafter.

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