Students have distinctive, valuable insights to offer about the teaching and learning experience, though student feedback should not be a stand-alone measure of teaching quality. UO is piloting new end-of-term “student experience” surveys that organize student feedback around specific, research-led teaching practices. Moreover, in spring 2018, the UO Senate passed legislation directing the university to collect as a resource for faculty and GEs—in other words, for improvement not evaluation—midterm student experience feedback.
Since 2007, UO has centrally administered online student evaluations of teaching (SETs). Students are urged by email to complete these SETs, which open before dead week and close before final examinations begin—students who do them or take the step to decline them enjoy earlier access to their grades.
In addition to multiple choice questions about their expected grades and effort in the course, students are asked to rank on a scale of 1-5 (5 indicates “exceptional”; 1 “unsatisfactory”).
- What was the quality of this course?
- What was the quality of the instructor’s teaching?
- How well organized was this course?
- How effective was the instructor’s use of class time?
- How available was the instructor for communication outside of class?
- How clear were the guidelines for evaluating students' work in this course?
- The amount that I learned in this course was:
Then they are asked qualitative questions about the “instructor’s strengths and areas for possible improvement” and “strengths and areas of possible improvement for the course as a whole.” Departments can add up to 25 additional questions.
Please see the Office of the Registrar for more details on UO’s current system.
Individual faculty might want to guide evaluators’ interpretation of SET results by addressing them in personal statements; evaluators should be aware of the limitations of SET data and ensure they are considering student data alongside other evidence of teaching quality. The TEP Statement on Student Evaluations of Teaching summarizes this evidence and contains useful citations.
New: Midterm Student Experience Surveys
UO is adopting (beginning with volunteer departments in fall 2018) a centrally administered Midterm Student Experience Survey with results provided only to the instructor for continual course improvement.
The survey asks students how well they understand the learning outcomes of the course. Then it focuses their feedback on selecting and commenting on a single element of the course most beneficial to their learning and a single element that most needs improvement.
The elements are drawn from research on the teaching practices that are significant to student learning: inclusiveness, transparency of instructions and grading, timing of feedback, the level or challenge and support student perceive, the quality of the course materials and engaging quality assignments, the quality of peer-to-peer interactions and instructor-student communication, and the active learning characteristic of class sessions.
TEP recommends that every instructor gather midterm feedback, which allows instructors to make changes and improvements that may significantly enhance student learning and contribute to a more rewarding teaching experience. (TEP can help with questions and survey design and deployment.)
Collecting then reporting back to the class results of midterm feedback is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to discuss with students the how the why of teaching and learning in the course. In sharing results with students, instructors can identify the things they plan to change (if any), identify things they won’t change and why, and highlight areas where students disagree so that they can learn about the range of responses and diverse perspectives about learning in the class. This kind of explicit discussion about learning has the power to enhance students’ metacognitive skills, which can serve them well across contexts.