Teaching and Unit Evaluation Methods

Teaching and Unit Evaluation Methods

Evaluation, and the information it provides, can take various forms and can be used for a range of purposes. Formative purposes include enhancing professional teaching practice and informing curriculum and assessment development. Evaluation data can also provide evidence to support individual career progression, award applications and professional recognition. At the organisational level, departments, faculties and the University make use of evaluation data in quality assurance and statutory reporting purposes.

The diagram below indicates a number of ways to evaluate the quality of learning, teaching and curriculum and so enhance the quality of student learning and experience.

diagram of evaluation

Support from TEDS

In addition to managing the ordering and processing of student feedback surveys on teaching and units,  the Teaching Evaluation for Development Service (TEDS) supports teaching staff to engage in the critical reflective cycle of evaluation, reflection, planning and implementing change in their individual teaching, unit and program for quality enhancement. Through its services, TEDS seeks to support student engagement, the development of individuals, departments and academic units, as well as curriculum renewal.

In accordance with critical reflective practice and scholarly teaching principles we recommend that individuals, Departments and Faculties regularly:

  1. Collect evaluative data from students/learners on their experiences of programs, courses and units conducted by the individual/organisational unit concerned.
  2. Analyse the data to establish possible areas of current policy and practice in need of recognition or development.
  3. Establish goals and strategies to meet any identified needs for development, and
  4. Implement and evaluate the impact of these strategies on student learning outcomes and experiences.

To assist individual staff and organisational units to meet these responsibilities TEDS provides:

  • A range of evaluation instruments and reports that can be used to collect, and act upon, student feedback data, including:
    • formal questionnaires to provide student feedback on teaching and units
    • formal reports on data from these questionnaires.
  • Advice for individual staff on
    • using student feedback for the quality enhancement of units and for individual professional development,
    • a range of approaches to evaluation of teaching, units and programs, and
    • preparing Academic Portfolios, to document teaching for career purposes.
  • Advice to academic units and leaders of learning and teaching on the use of student feedback in quality assurance and enhancement of teaching, units and programs, including
    • recognising and rewarding quality teaching,
    • identifying areas for development, and
    • establishing goals and strategies for enhancement.
  • Resources to assist the interpretation of student feedback reports and to guide developmental goals and strategies, including
    • Student Feedback Report Summary Tables
    • Developing your teaching
    • Developing your unit
    • Documenting Evidence of Your Work

Note: Staff use of the Learner Experience of Teaching (LET) survey is voluntary and confidential. The LET is available to all staff teaching Macquarie University Programs.

At Macquarie, we encourage you to evaluate using a range of sources of information. The information can come from your students, your own observations, your peers or mentor's observations, and your students' work. The University is currently developing policies around evaluation and some of the activities listed below may become part of a review cycle at your department.  Over time, using several methods from this list will ensure that you obtain diverse but complementary perspectives on many facets of teaching and/or curriculum.

Student evaluation and feedback

Student feedback is a rich and valuable source of information for both formative and summative purposes. Student feedback provides summative evidence for staff promotion, probation and awards, and for internal and external quality assurance reporting requirements.

Reflective Practice

Macquarie University encourages scholarly, reflective practice in all areas of academic work, including teaching and curriculum development.

What is reflection?

There is no agreed definition of reflection in the literature however most approaches include the idea of “purposeful thought” (Loughran, 2006) about beliefs, thoughts or actions, undertaken in order to improve or learn.

In the context of teaching, we think of reflective practice as the process of deliberately thinking about how and what we teach, with a view to enhancing its effectiveness for student learning. It involves self-review and self-assessment, and a willingness to learn and adapt, and is therefore an intrinsic element of quality evaluation. A teacher who integrates this intentional approach with the exploration, application and/or production of scholarship in learning and teaching can claim to be engaged in scholarly, reflective practice in learning and teaching.

Teaching strategies and learning activities often use terms that are based on reflection. Depending on your discipline/subject or study area you might be more familiar with terms such as: analysis, review, evaluation, critical thinking, investigation, making sense, making meaning, contemplation, contemplative practice, meditation, introspection or felt knowing.

Professional recognition for teaching excellence and curriculum innovation (whether internally, via promotion, or externally via grants, awards and teaching fellowships) is increasingly based on the ability to plan, implement, articulate, evaluate and reflect upon achievements and initiatives in these areas, and to substantiate each step with reference to an evidence base (scholarship).

Resources to support scholarly reflective practice in learning and teaching

A range of resources, hints and tips to support scholarly reflective practice can be found in the Teaching and Curriculum Evaluation iLearn site (in development, July 2017). These will be useful if you are seeking to:

  • Develop your teaching practice and/or curriculum design to enhance student learning.
  • Ensure that you provide sound evidence for the quality of your teaching and curriculum for career progression and professional recognition purposes.
  • Enrich and develop your scholarly reflective practice in teaching and curriculum.
  • Support your own scholarship and research in learning and teaching

Student Feedback

Methods of obtaining student feedback may be formal or informal, structured, semi-structured or unstructured. They include surveys, minute papers, focus groups and student consultations. See more information about Student Feedback Surveys at Macquarie.

Peer Observation and Review

Peer review of teaching and curriculum provide an opportunity for participants (both reviewer and reviewed) to gather evidence about, reflect on and enhance the quality of their teaching practice and curriculum design.

The term peer review encompasses a wide range of peer observation and evaluation practices, from classroom observation, assessment moderation and evaluation of learning activities (online or face-to-face), to cyclical review of curriculum at unit and program levels. It may be conducted by peers at all levels from institutional (department and faculty) to external (other universities and industry professionals). Peer review may be formative or summative, or it may have elements that fulfil both formative and summative purposes.

Models for peer review

There are many pathways to peer review and a range of models and frameworks that may be used as a basis for developing peer review practices. One such approach is the Model, developed through a nationally-funded project in which Macquarie played a leading role. You can find out more about this model on the Peer Review of Teaching website. This site provides a handbook and comprehensive resources to support the planning, implementation and documentation of peer review in its many forms.

At Macquarie, we are encouraging the development of systematic peer review of teaching and curriculum within our faculties and departments. The main purpose of these initiatives is to encourage a culture of collaboration and sharing of ideas and expertise in teaching and curriculum that will both build our capacity in these areas and enhance student learning. A further aim is to provide evidence to assist staff in career progression and professional recognition and to inform quality assurance processes.

Peer Review Resources

A number of groups in the University are using or adapting resources drawn from the  roject to develop their peer review systems; others are drawing on different sources. We have established a Peer Review section in the Teaching and Curriculum Evaluation iLearn site (in development, July 2017), which includes a repository of locally developed resource and links to external websites. We encourage you to explore this repository and use or adapt methods and materials as you wish!

Back to the top of this page